The Rundown: I Was An 11-Year-Old Barfly, Ross Sold on Caratini, Rizzo Continues to Give, Mills Talks Uncle Charlie

“I’m a dweller on the threshold and I’m waiting at the door. I’m standing in the darkness and I don’t want to wait no more.” – Van Morrison, Dweller on the Threshold

Baseball teams would have broken camp this week in preparation for Opening Day, which was scheduled league-wide for Thursday. Alas, there will be no baseball and no one can pinpoint when the game will return. Estimates range from as early as May 10 to a complete cancellation of the season and anywhere in between. Most of us have been making do by watching replays of old games, but that gets tiring after a couple days when you already know the outcome.

Oh, how I long for a wiffle bat and ball and a playmate to pitch to me. Not that kind of playmate, get your minds out of the gutter. On second thought…

I have a confession to make: I was an 11-year-old barfly. I’m not kidding about that. When I was in fourth grade, my parents divorced and my mom was forced into the workplace to make ends meet. That meant my Aunt Shirley would stay at our house to sit for us after school until mom returned from work. My dad’s sister was completely anti-baseball, which meant coming home to soap operas, The Newlywed Game, and Match Game rather than Cubs baseball. I had to think a little outside the box.

That May there was a Cubs-Astros game I really wanted to see, and, as I was taking an off-the-beaten-path route home to avoid a sixth grade bully who had been terrorizing me at the time, I found myself passing the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post at 110th and Depot in Worth, IL. Their door and a few windows were open and I heard the dulcet voice of Jack Brickhouse describing the game as I approached the veterans’ watering hole. So I crept up to get a sneak peak.

The Cubs were in first place at the time and had what seemed like a legit shot to contend for a playoff spot, so naturally my interest was more than a little piqued. I stood outside the window watching for about a half-inning before the bartender snuck from around the back and grabbed my arm. She told me in a very thick Irish accent that I wasn’t allowed to “hang about” and that I should get home.

I explained my plight to her and she let me stay. There were a few ground rules I had to adhere to since I was well beneath the minimum age (18 at the time) to be inside a bar without parental supervision. So, she put me to work. In those days, the beer vendors would pick up empty bottles when they resupplied their customers, so I was to stack empty bottles in the crates in exchange for $2.50 per day, plus I had to sweep cigarette butts up off of the floor. I’m sure it was in violation of child labor laws, but no one cared and I sort of became the Post’s mascot. And I got to watch the Cubs all summer.

Chicago won that game 4-2 behind ace Rick Reuschel, improving to 20-10 on the season, and the team, which featured stars Andre Thornton, Rick Monday, and Jerry Morales, seemed unbeatable. Alas, the ’75 Cubs finished 75-87 and in fifth place, but I had my first real taste of adulthood and “hanging about” in a tavern, and I made a cool $12.50 each week to boot.

Cubs News & Notes

Apropos of Nothing

There is a movement gaining some social medium momentum that we should all wear our favorite baseball jerseys on March 26 in honor of Opening Day. I hope you’ll sport yours and post a picture in Thursday’s comments section.

Odds & Sods

The most iconic moment of the 1975 season was the home run Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit against Reds pitcher Pat Darcy in Game 6 of the World Series. “If it stays fair!”

That was the greatest World Series, ever, at least until 2016.

MLB News & Notes

Virtual dingers are just as much fun as the real thing for Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

How about a hot take for each of the 30 MLB teams, including Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, who many expect to have a bounceback season?

Royals shortstop prospect Bobby Witt Jr. hit a baseball off of a tee roughly 75 yards into a basket. This has to be seen to be believed.

Houston outfielder Josh Reddick clapped back when someone called him and his Astros teammates “cheaters” on Twitter. Nice ring, Josh. You still cheated.

The cost to attend a baseball game post-COVID-19 is expected to be lower.

Extra Innings

Hands down, the greatest comedy of all time.

They Said It

  • “He’s probably one of the most calm at-bats we have on the team, especially from the left side. It’s professional. He’s in every at-bat. He doesn’t need a ton of starts to still have that timing, which is a very powerful thing when you’re coming off the bench as a backup catcher. So, yeah, I have a ton of confidence in Vic Caratini.” – David Ross
  • “I just want to pitch, it’s something that I’ve wanted to do my whole life. So I just want to pitch: bullpen, starter, whatever it is. I just want to do what I can to help the team win.” – Alec Mills

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number by Aaliyah

What went wrong? As a 14-year-old, Aaliyah had a sexual affair with R&B singer R. Kelly, who was twice her age at the time. Kelly produced the song and would soon after illegally marry the teen star.

How does it play today? It’s still covered in all kinds of ick since it’s basically an autobiographical song that tries to justify their illegal union. “Age ain’t nothing but a number / throwing down ain’t nothing but a thang / This lovin’ I have for you, it’ll never change.”  – that’s much more than mildly uncomfortable given its context.

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