This is turning into the summer of 5150 for me, just as it was 30 years ago. Back then I had a cassette copy of the first Van Halen album of the Sammy Hagar era, and I played it on my cheap component stereo in the basement of my parents’ house. Nowadays I have a digital version on my iTunes account, and I can sync to it when I’m out driving around the city.
Because 5150 has nine tracks, I always thought of it like a batting lineup. The first side has the better hitters on it, from “Good Enough” in the leadoff spot through “Summer Nights” in the five hole. The songs on side two are OK, but the better songs are up there near the top of the order on side one.
In the third spot, probably the most important position in any bating order, is “Get Up.” I always liked the frenetic pace of the song, and how it leads nicely into “Dreams,” the cleanup hitter and my favorite song on the album. But “Dreams” is a song that every Cubs fans can relate to, because it often feels like that’s all we actually have. And those dreams have always ended up being crushed, even in the years where the Cubs were actually good.
But “Get Up” is another story, altogether. The Cubs simply have not had the ability–or perhaps it was the heart?–to come from behind since the last years of the Lou Piniella era. Although the numbers changed from game to game, the storyline never did: the Cubs fell behind, sometimes by a run and sometimes by a lot more than that, and it was always game over after that. I could go back and research the numbers on Cubs comebacks through the years of this decade, but every Cubs fan knows this to be the truth.
But this year is so dramatically different from years gone by. The Cubs fell into a four-run hole on Saturday, after the Braves put up five runs in the fifth inning. If Mike Quade was still the manager, or Dale Sveum, or Rick Renteria, it would have been enough to hang around to sing the seventh inning stretch, and head for the exits after that. There was never anything good going to happen that justified hanging around until the game was over.
But this year’s Cubs team has flipped that script. They almost made it seem easy, scoring six unanswered runs on Saturday for a 9-7 victory. Six unanswered runs! That hasn’t happened to the Cubs in several years. Not that I’m complaining about it, either. It’s sure going to be interesting in September and beyond.
And to borrow a line from “Summer Nights,” we’ve made it through the cold, Cubs fans. Forget about the Bears and the impending return of the NFL. Baseball’s going to give us all the excitement we need this year.