#FlytheW – Even if You’re Not From Chicago

What happened in 1908? As we all know, it was the last time the Chicago Cubs earned a World Series victory.  But did you also know it was also the year “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – or baseball’s unofficial anthem – was written? Yes, these two significant baseball events share an anniversary that has withstood the test of time.

Of course, this year, Cubs fans everywhere hope to override that fact. Tonight the Chicago Cubs made history by hosting the first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945. They last took home the big prize with back-to-back victories in 1907 and 1908. Needless to say, the city has come to a standstill to savor this moment. As a Boston Red Sox fan, I totally get it – we waited 86 years for a World Series win and the excitement of that post-season was incomparable to any sporting experience I’ve ever had. Even though my team got bounced early this year, I’m very happy for Chicago Cubs fans everywhere.

I’ve been to Wrigley Field once, for a Sunday afternoon game in May 2015, and it’s as charming and iconic as you’d imagine. From the bar scene in Wrigleyville to the coveted bleacher seats atop the brownstones that ring the field, it’s a very special place. This weekend I’m confident getting close to that area has been impossible, except for those fortunate enough to score tickets or a bar stool. Yet, I’m also confident that the same electric ambiance is being felt all throughout Chicago – in bars, homes and streets everywhere.

While sports loyalties run deep, every once in a while, I think it’s okay to “root, root, root for another team” because they’ve demonstrated they deserve a chance to bring it home. With 103 wins this year, the Cubs eclipsed every other team in both leagues. 108 years is a lot longer than our 86; I hope 2016 is the Cubbies’ year. Of course, if 2017 is the Red Sox!

#FlytheW

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When Your Family is Named Mike – and Mike

For eight years, my commute to work involved an hour’s drive. When I first relocated to working in the suburbs, I realized I had to upgrade my 12-year old car for a new, more reliable model. And along with the car, I decided to subscribe to satellite radio. After all, I needed entertainment for all that alone time. Being a sports fan, I happily settled into commuting to the office accompanied by Mike & Mike on ESPN radio.

For the uninitiated, the Mikes are a team of opposites – Mike Greenberg is a sports journalist while Mike Golic enjoyed an eight-year career in the NFL. Together, they chatter as a self-proclaimed nerd and a jock, with an on-air chemistry that’s both entertaining and informative. Whether dishing on the prior day’s professional sports highlights or offering insights to help settle March Madness brackets or fantasy football line-ups, I became a loyal listener.

What’s interesting was how easily I made an emotional connection with two guys I never met. Maybe it was the subject matter – yes, spectator sports are a very emotional pastime! Or perhaps it was the genuine easy rhythm that comes after 15 years of working together. No matter how it happened, they made it feel like I was spending time with old friends. I even got to know their families a bit!  And frankly, it got to the point that I actually found I missed one or both Mikes when travel or vacation took them away from the show.

Last spring, however, I had to give them up because my job moved back into the city and I reclaimed train commuting. I occasionally listened to a replay of the show but it’s just not the same as live. Recently, I was driving to work in another one office and was excited to tune in to the Mikes. It had been a while and the football season was in full swing so I was ready for some good insights. But just like any good family, a surprise was in store – today’s scoring highlight was Mike Golic’s standout performance in a donut eating contest! With a laugh-out-loud moment in the car, it felt like we’d only been together yesterday as I listened to Greenie proudly congratulate his co-host on his big win.

Why was this such a great example of the “Mike & Mike” brand?

  1. Authenticity – these guys are who they are. Golic is a self-deprecating, extrovert, who understands that being a radio host requires entertaining. And Greenie is student of journalism, who often talks about his humble start, and helps steer their focus.
  2. Emotional connections – whether the NFL Superbowl or the station’s donut challenge, these guys know sports and help listeners appreciate athletics through their lively dialogues. Yet their friendly demeanor and down-to-earth style is classic water-cooler office chatter vs. know-it-all smartypants.
  3. Consistency – you know what to expect in terms of overall content and style. And if you like the experience, you want to come back for more!

I congratulate these guys for providing a thoroughly entertaining show that kept my dial positioned on ESPN for eight enjoyable years. I don’t miss putting all those miles on my car, but it’s comforting to know that whenever I have the occasion to drive to work, my Mikes will be waiting to keep me company!

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