My very favorite baseball team is the Chicago Cubs. Actually, my very favorite team in any sport is the Chicago Cubs.
When you’re from Chicago, it’s kind of a rule that you have to pick a baseball team, because we have two. You HAVE to choose.
The Cubs or The White Sox
North Side or South Side
Red, White, and Blue or Black, White, and Silver
Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park (It’s not technically Comiskey anymore but go with it.)
The thing is, I don’t actually remember picking the Cubs; I only know that I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember.
One example of how fiercely I loved the Cubs even before I had ever seen a game or, for that matter, knew how to play baseball at all? This hat.
I’m not sure how or when I acquired this hat, but just like my love for the team it’s been with me for as long as I can remember. When I was six or seven, a family friend repeatedly offered to give me money for it. I repeatedly turned him down.
“Twenty dollars,” he’d say. “I’ll give you twenty dollars for it. They don’t make hats like exactly that anymore.”
Back in the mid-70s, twenty dollars was a ton of money for a kid.
Each time though, I’d tell him no. “I love this hat! I’m keeping it!”
In the summer of 1980, my Cubs hat even figured into an Anne Geddes-style photo shoot with our dachshund Dapple’s two newborn puppies, Sandy and Willie.
That hat and my Cubs love, forever.
It’s not easy being a Cubs fan. We’re so used to losing that when people talk about how badly the Cubs suck (ahem, before the current roster!), we shrug and say, “Yeah, oh well.” Head shakes and heavy sighing are customary when you’re a Cubs fan. (That said, we are THE most loyal sports fans in the universe.)
The last time we won the World Series was in 1908. The last time we were one of the two teams playing in the World Series (before this year, holla!) was 1945, seventy-one years ago. That was the year the Curse of the Billy Goat came into play. A man named William Sianis brought his goat to the game and when he was asked to leave because the goat’s odor was bothering other fans, he allegedly stated that the Cubs would never win again.
We’ve also dealt with the Bartman incident, which happened in 2003 when the Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins in Game Six of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs were ready to win their fourth game and take the series when Steve Bartman reached out in the eighth inning to grab a foul ball, disrupting a catch by Cubs player Moisés Alou and thus preventing the second out. It was all downhill from there and Steve Bartman’s life has never been the same, I’m sure.
Our mantra is “There’s always next year!”
We’re used to losing.
We’re the “Lovable Losers,” in fact.
It’s finally next year. After the longest drought in North American sports history, we’re in the World Series. The city is going nuts. Cubs fans who are sprinkled in other areas of the country are going wild. It doesn’t even seem real. We keep pinching ourselves. Could this really be happening?
We’re playing the Cleveland Indians, another team and city who’ve been waiting an awfully long time for some glory on the world stage. It’s going to be more heartbreaking than usual for whichever team loses because we both want it so much more than those who make it every few years. (Obviously I hope that it’s the Indians and I hope their grief is short-lived, but you probably knew I felt that way.)
After Game One, when Cleveland shut us out with a 6-0 final score, I felt Cubs Nation fall back into old habits, just for a minute. There was, even though we all WANT to believe, a virtual shoulder-shrugging. We lost. Okay. Maybe this isn’t our year. But you know what? We bounced back in Game Two. Cubs fans collectively rallied and looked to this talented, young team we have now, and their amazing manager Joe Maddon; they’re teaching an entire city to truly believe. Every game doesn’t have to be won in order to succeed. Sometimes losing one game fuels the next one.
Will we win the entire series? Gosh, I hope so. I want this so, so much.
I look forward to the explosion of excitement around here should what has seemed impossible for generations actually proves to be possible.
I can’t wait for the virtual sign that says “Years since last World Series Win? ZERO.”
I’m excited to be a part of a city-wide identity crisis when we shed the “Lovable Losers” nickname and figure out where we go from there.
And if we don’t win?
Well, there’s always next year.