Friday, September 10, 2004  
Days Of Old

In the wake of a mistake-ridden first game against the Marlins, this nostalgic Cub fan found one shining light in the ballgame. The seventh inning stretch featured my all-time favorite Cubs player, Andre Dawson. The Hawk gave us his rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," and unlike many of Wrigley's guest conductors, every note that escaped his mouth tune.

At the top of the eighth, Chip and Steve shared their standard meet-the-conductor interview with their guest, and Andre talked about his memories as a Cubs player. He said what he enjoyed the most was the way the fans respected him and his teammates, even in the years when the Cubs were one of the worst teams in the league. In fact, it was 1987 when the Cubs were dead last in their division, yet Dawson had the best year of his career and became the National League MVP.

I pondered his words and thought about the last few games at Wrigley Field. This certainly hasn't been one of the greatest stretches of games in Cubs history, but the 2004 Cubs are certainly doing better than the Cubs of 1987. But judging from the continued boos inning after inning from the box seats, upper decks and bleachers of Wrigley Field, it seems to me that the fans aren't offering the same amount of respect to this team compared to the Cubs teams of old. Could Dawson have had his amazing 1987 season if the Cubs of 1986 (which he was not a part of, of course) had gone deep into the postseason only to suck it up the following year? Would the fans at Wrigley have booed The Hawk every time he struck out?

It's clear to me that past success can be one of the heaviest items a team can have on its shoulders. Coming within five outs of the World Series is an amazing accomplishment, but for fans who have waited their entire lifetimes to see them come away with the biggest prize in the sport, the expectations they place on this team may not disappear for many years to come.

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