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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gotta Get Back In Time: The United States, World History, and Your 2015, er, 1945 Chicago Cubs

Who knew, 30 years ago, when NL MVP Ryne Sandberg and 1984 Cubs were coming off a glorious ride, that the Cubs would still be in search of that elusive WS title. Here's just a few historic milestones since the Cubs last saw a World Series without buying a ticket:

1) Space exploration. Result: lots there, but far away for any human to get at in a normal lifetime. Oh well, Matthew Mcconaughey will make that happen.
2) TV "matures." Well...it has evolved into reality shows and really bad NBC, the originators of your broadcasts.
3) Desegregation. When the Cubs were in the 1945 World Series, Jackie Robinson was still unknown to "white America." Now: everybody knows who is our POTUS. Who would have called the odds on that taking place...back in 1945. Red Barber surely wouldn't have.
1945: The view is uncluttered. There are no billboards visible. No Under Armour logos, Budweiser signs, et. al. Simple times if cheap times...
President in 1984. SAG Prez after WWII.

4) Rise of China. In 1945, China still ostensibly had Chiang Kai-shek in charge and the US as an ally. By 1949, Chairman Mao took control. Economically, the Chinese struggled until Mao's death. Great Leap Forward was a great leap backward - around the same time, the Cubs spiraled into oblivion from 1946-1966. China's "doesn't matter if the cat's black or white, as long as it catches mice" new economic reforms take shape after Deng Xiaoping came to power. Now: China will surpass U.S. economic (GDP) output, depending on who's projecting, sometime in the next 5-7 years.
5) The Fall of USSR. So, "we" beat the communists. Through proxy wars, arms races, covert OPs, and extolling the virtues of economic freedom, the war was fought and won over 45 years until the Berlin Wall came down. Unlike the Cubs, who never saw a nickel they couldn't ration out during that time, the U.S. quickly spent like rapper on holiday in Vegas for 45 years. The man credited by many with the Fall of the Wall, Ronald Reagan, was just a mediocre, but powerful, actor in 1945. Who just so happened to start out as a broadcaster of baseball games in Iowa for the Cubs in the 1930s.
6) Internet and Social Media. At some point, back in 1945, you had to talk face to face to your sweetheart. Sure, phones were a commodity. But long-distance wasn't "free" by any stretch. Heck, you had to dial on a rotary, and the operators were the NSA of their time. Cubs probably had a strict limit on phone calls made from the train stops, or if PK Wrigley allowed, after plane flights. Now: you get to see one-time, "stud" CF Grady Sizemore's junk. Or can follow any Cubs player's tweets to the adoring public. Yeah.
7) The Decline of the U.S. Ok, this has gotten long. In 1945, the United States was by far the most powerful entity on this Earth. The Pacific Fleet at the conclusion of WWII numbered: 23 battleships, 26 full-size carriers, 64 escort carriers, 52 cruisers, 323 destroyers, 181 subs, 14,847 combat planes The U.S Army: 8.3 million strong. (Think Magazine, 1950). U.S. GDP was around 50% of the World output. Now: because of the U.S.'s propensity to build up other economies, the numbers were always in decline. But I doubt anyone would say the U.S. has better infrastructure, education, or addresses problems of incarceration or health care, well at all. Meanwhile, the lovable losers haven't muster much either...maybe they do have to win, in order for the United States to finally reverse its curse...

8) Technology-driven world. The mid-20th century was still the Industrial Age. Factories driven more by basic common sense and gut instincts, than business sense and stats and programs that do all the "thinking" for you. People liked technology for its long-term practicality for their lives. Now: People get tech for a 6 month high of having the latest gadget that the Joneses don't have. The Cubs never invested much in their team's foundation from the 1930s forward. Poor facilities to play in, train in, hamstrung their hopes to get good players developed or free agents coming to town. No always, but certainly a factor.

9) The Song Remains the Same. It is said the more things change the more they stay the same. Or also, the problems of the past are not all that much different from the present ones. Odd to think that a firm linkage of 70 years - 40 years between the Cubs final World Series appearance, and the aftermath of their best played season, and 30 years after Back to the Future - exists. In Back to the Future II, the 2015 Cubs win the World Series. 

Now: The Power of Now. As a 40-something, I remember those 1984-85 Cubs teams. How I rooted for their victories, and struggled with them in defeat. I hoped a lot. The music, like the Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News, played on the radio. That told of hope to a budding teenager in love with sport, girls, and music.

Today, the echoes of those long ago memories rang true. The brilliance of that moment meant I should create a present tense as good as I remembered that time and place. The responsibilities are different of the now. The headaches of mid-life: career improvement, relationship management, the planning for one's after-work life, to name a short few. The world has changed, innovated, grown in turmoil, and left scars on many souls. It is the path we trek as we grow in age, and think back, while thinking ahead, as we live in the now

The Cubs are no longer in 1945; or 1985; but in the now of 2015. Will they do it? Will they be like these fellars:
The Power of Then: http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/visuals/post/_/id/9483/yearbook-oct-10-cubs-in-the-world-series
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