Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

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Well, besides books and music, I do have several other items that I collect. Greg Maddux, former Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves pitcher, was my first serious sports obsession. He was also the first athlete that I collected things on. I still do that. I haven’t been to a sports memorabilia show in eons, so that’s on my list of stuff to do this year. I need more Mad Dog stuff.

How does this start? Well, I grew up watching the Cubs. Thanks not a bit to my dad for that, but I have to say thanks, because despite the running joke that is the Chicago Cubs organization these days, I do still enjoy watching baseball and I do still enjoy some Chicago Cubs athletes. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I can still watch both teams in Chicago and like them- although I have slipped over to the Dark Side many, many moons ago. My first love in the Chicago baseball world was Greg Maddux. He continues to be my favorite athlete, years after he was traded by the Cubs to Atlanta, where he formed the nucleus of talent known as Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux (sounds like a bad folk trio with a moniker like that). I still read up on him to find out what he’s up to, I follow his Twitter account, and I always hope that he would end up coming back to the Cubs in some higher organizational role (owner?), because I believe that an organization that needs major fixing up would do well with a manner of Maddux’s stature and eloquence. The bombastic shenanigans didn’t work, and now its owned by a family that hired Theo Epstein. Things like that 500 million dollar renovation project of a park that’s known for its antiquated charm, make me sick. When Comiskey Park went the way of US Cellular Field, I cried. It is not the same. Wrigley Field, after they get the Jumbo Kiss-My-Ass-Tron, will not ever be the same. It’s a sign of change, yet some things will stay the same. My admiration of Greg Maddux will stay the same. So will my attempts to collect things relating to him. You might ask- why Greg Maddux?  His style, eloquence, and quiet grace made him the rock of the Cubs topsy-turvy pitching rotation for the years we had him. When he hit Atlanta, it gelled with the Atlanta Braves top notch rotation, and he found his true home. That was my first experience with an athlete who didn’t blow his top every five minutes when shit didn’t go his way, he would quietly go about his business, and get the job done. They say keep an eye on the quiet ones, and this was no exception. Of course, I did think he was a fetching young lad. I still do. Overall, it was the mechanics on the baseball diamond, his work ethic, and just about everything else that makes him my favorite athlete. Still. That’s a hard designation, because I like football, hockey, tennis, and basketball also. I have a whole litany of favorite athletes, but I don’t spend the length of time that I have devoted to finding collectibles relating to #31.

The first thing was the jersey. I had one that I got the first season Maddux was with the Cubs. It’s not autographed, but it’s in a box in my friend’s basement. It has seen better days and better games, but I can’t part with it. It’s holey, it has the stink of a garment that’s been washed over and over again and stored in a box for years, it’s a jersey for a member of a team long gone. It’s the sentiments and memories of happier teen years that I can’t part with; this jersey is a remembrance of that. The best part of that is that I just found out that I still had the jersey! I had bitched for years that my sister borrowed it and never returned it; but that was my Kerry Wood jersey, not my Maddux jersey. When Johnny was moving this past week, he found it and let me know it’s still intact. I am thrilled. As soon as I finish the yearlong project known as my house renovation (annihilation), I will find a place of honor for it. I have the rookie card. It’s in plastic, and the aforementioned Walgreen’s frame. Not sure why i kept putting things in those picture frames, but it keeps them intact! I still have the Cubs program from the the first year he was there, as well as when he fanned his 3,000 hitter on July 26, 2005. I have every newspaper article from that night. I have every magazine article from the momentous occurrences in his career. I was recently informed by my sister that she still has pictures from when I had carved “Maddux” in my dad’s old dresser. Yes, I did. If I see something with #31 on it, I’m convinced it’s good luck and I need to stick with it. Felicia got me a coffee mug for a birthday gift this year- it has 31 on it. First thing I said? “That’s Greg Maddux’s number!” Yes, I said it before Thank You. I’m sorry, F-Zero. She knows, she forgives, she’s a Cub fan. I have ridiculous amounts of articles. I have the bobblehead. I own a baseball that his his worn off signature. I am currently hunting down a Cubs jacket with his number on it. I do have an Atlanta Braves shirt with his number. I became enamored of Atlanta for many years after Maddux left to go there, not just because they were a far superior team to the Cubs (still), but because he was there and the team, well, played baseball as it should be played. Probably the only baseball player for whom I still give a rat’s ass and collect things on, and likely that’s the way it will stay.

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Yes, that’s what it looks like. Except mine is encased in plastic and has the backing of a cheap Walgreen’s 12″X58″ photo frame to keep it intact. Except, truthfully, it is not in great shape.

Not sure if Dave has a caveat that all things written about on this blog must be in pristine, wafer-thin condition, for if that’s the case, he’s going to have to dispose of the evidence contained inside this Ziploc bag of a blog. [I do not – DM]

The year is 1985. The Chicago Bears were known, deservedly so, as the “Monsters Of The Midway”. A longtime Chicago Bears fan gets the idea to write and choreograph a rap video for the team. He knows someone who knows a Mr. Willie Gault, and the ball gets rolling. They record the song and video, and it explodes. Chicago Bear fanatics weren’t the only people digging this tune, it goes on to be nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Group or Duo, in a time when the Grammys seemed to still mean something. It meant something more when Da Bears lost to- wait for it- KISS. Ha ha. Trivia factoid for those who are trivia-bound.

I was 12 in 1985. 12. Many momentous things happened when I was 12. I discovered a minor-league prospect (not personally) for the Cubs named Greg Maddux. Little did I know that I would become slightly obsessed with Mad Dog (that’s another blog post for another time) for over a decade. I discovered that I was my mother’s daughter and hooked on soap operas, and who cared if I ditched classes to watch them? I had straight A’s, no one would say anything (insert laughter here). I discovered that Vision Quest was a fucking awful movie, although Madonna saved the soundtrack (not the case for Who’s That Girl, oddly enough). More importantly than that, I discovered I was a Chicago Bears fan. What took so long? My father raised us watching the Cubs. Process that. My mom hated all sports with a passion. If any sport was on the channel, she would start a fight to get her point across.  My dad would turn the TV louder and ignore her. Now you know where I get that from.  My dad was a Green Bay Packers fan. Green. Bay. Cheesehead. Fan. I have never been more ashamed to write a sentence in my entire life. I love my dad, but I am die hard Bears fan, and he is die hard Swiss Snorter.  The Bears record is categorized under “rap”, a genre I readily admit to not understanding, although I do think it has its moments (Kayne West, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Swiss Miss Coco Cozumel. OK, I made that last one up.). If the Bears are considered “rap”, then sign me up for a lifetime membership. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I get the individual lyrics corresponding to individual characters on the team, and I liked the video also. C’mon, McMahon, my dream sportsman at the time? (BM- Before Maddux). Walter Payton, Sweetness, one of,  if not,  the best running back in the history of the game? Mike Singletary, “Heart of the Defense”? Richard Dent, the Sack Man? The Fridge, the most lovable teddy bear to play for the Bears? A singing cast you couldn’t beat. Any rabid Bears fan would love it. And that was the start of my Chicago Bears obsession. 1985. The season overall, the players, Ditka minus the orange glow, the song- all of it. I was hooked. I listen to that song now, and I should cringe (listen to it, seriously- all these years later and given what our ears have been exposed to since it was released), but I don’t. It still makes me silly.  What did I have to go through to get my paws on this 45″?

Given the hysteria attached to anything that the Chicago Bears did in 1985, you can only imagine what it was like to find this 45. It was, for lack of a better 5-letter word, chaos. Rose Records in Countryside (where the HPB now is) didn’t have it, they had a waiting list of 200 people for it. 1985, and I was a 12-yr old kid in love with Jim McMahon, I didn’t have the fortitude to wait it out. We went to JR’s Music, and they were out. K-Mart, Venture, Zayre- all out. There weren’t bookstores that sold music back then- that was the advent of the 1990’s and beyond. The idea of a bookstore that sold records? In 1985? Crazy talk. So- onto the waiting list at Rose Records it was. My mom went with me to wait in lines week after week. She didn’t complain. She would just ditch me in line and go looking for Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink albums while I was suffering in vinyl purgatory. It was a good 3 months AFTER the Bears won the Super Bowl before I finally got that call from Rose Records. When I went to pick it up, the guy behind the counter told me that it was indeed a collectible and was sold separately. It came in a separate box, etc. I don’t know if I totally buy that story, but at that point, it had ceased being about collector status and became rabid fan status. I didn’t give two shits if it was worth 10 thousand rupees if I had it in my perspiring little mitts. And I did. The cover. I propped that fucker up against the other side of my record player so that the first and last thing I saw before I attempted sleep was the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears. They must have stayed that way for the better part of a year, replacing my beloved Duran. (Of course, various smart ass friends of mine love to point out that Duran on a break that year, splintering off into Arcadia and Power Station. That doesn’t mean they still wouldn’t have been put into superstar vinyl worship like normal!). I still love that 45. I still take it out and marvel that they did it, and that so many people enjoyed it, and still do. It wasn’t a colossal undertaking of epic proportions to secure the vinyl, like some other stories I will eventually share here, but it was the thought of the love and joy behind securing the vinyl, and continuing to worship and enjoy it, 28 years later.  One cannot say that about many things these days.