Perhaps my favorite thing about sports fandom is how it provides us with a common ground. Whether you’re across the country or the world, running into someone with your team’s hat or jersey gives you a connection to a total stranger. Maybe it’s nothing more than a brief conversation or a simple nod of recognition, but it’s still a sense of the familiar even when other factors exist to drive us apart.
That’s how I felt the other day when I tuned into Query & Schultz via 1260 AM in Indianapolis and heard some guy talking to them about the Cubs. Truth be told, my first thought was that someone was poaching my territory, since I’ve been a guest on one of the rare occasions they have to talk Cubs baseball. But lo and behold, it was Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter, who had been following spring training even as his Boilermakers were prepping for a tournament run.
The real kicker here is that I’m a big Indiana Hoosiers fan, so I was a little conflicted about how my sudden affinity for Painter — who was named NABC National Coach of the Year earlier in April — conflicted with my feelings about the in-state rivalry. But I reached out to see if he’d like to talk a little Cubs baseball once Purdue’s season had closed out.
His response: “Hell yes.”
Our conversation covered everything from how he became a Cubs fan (a familiar tale, but with a twist) and which current Cub would make the perfect Boilermaker (think consistent grinder). We also talked about whether he got more nervous in a close Big 10 game or watching the Cubs with a late lead.
“Oh, easily the Cubs,” Painter said. “That’s easy. As a coach or a manager, that’s what you do. You have a lot of experience doing it…But when you’re watching something you have no control over that you have a passion for, that really hurts.
“That’s hard to take because you’re just kinda sitting there and you’re at the mercy of some things that you don’t have a hand in on. So there’s no doubt that I’m more nervous at those times.”
One more fun fact that didn’t make the recording: Painter has never actually met Drew Brees, future Hall of Fame inductee and fellow Purdue alum. Take a listen and maybe give us a good review if you have the occasion to do so.
Deep Like Leviathan is my personal podcast not generally devoted to Cubs topics, but I’d like to use it for future interviews and my own extemporaneous thoughts. DLL is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts.