I haven’t been sleeping well lately and when I do actually sleep, it comes with crazy fever dreams, so real and so bizarre that I wake up disoriented. I blame baseball. Yes, the Chicago Cubs are making me lose sleep. If you don’t follow sports, it’s not going to make sense to you but if you do, you’ll know what I have been experiencing. Cubs fans especially know what this is all about. I’m 46 years old and have yet to experience what a Cubs World Series win feels like. My dad was three months old the last time the Cubs were even in a Series, his dad wasn’t even born the last time they won a Series. It’s been a long drought.
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And knowing the weight of that century plus of almosts, like 1969, 1984, ’89, ’98, ’03, ’07, ’08 and ’15. So many great Cubs, so many almosts: Banks, Santo, Williams, Sandberg, Grace, Dawson, Davis, Maddux, Wood, Prior, Sosa, Zambrano, the list goes on. And sitting in the center field bleachers at Wrigley on a relatively warm Saturday night in October while the Cubs made history, beating the Dodgers to advance to their first World Series in 71 years, we all felt it, that inborn dread.
We almost couldn’t believe what we as fans were witnessing, especially passing that seemingly insurmountable hurdle of being five outs away, We’d been there before, the last time it seemed within our collective grasp and dared to think we could be witnessing our team achieve the impossible. Then all hell broke loose.
Don’t blame the superfan who caught the foul ball, blame the can-of-corn double play ball Alex Gonzalez bobbled, or even how Moises Alou reacted to the caught foul ball. Just don’t blame the kid who still wishes for anonymity. But when the Cubs beat the Dodgers October 22nd, another hurdle was cleared. And, while I did get a bit misty that night, I didn’t full-out cry, not yet.
So, now, The Cubs have made it to their first World Series in 71 years and improbably came back from a 3-1 deficit with the Indians, with insane pieces falling into place to make it so, I still have that dread, of what could be but also a glimmer of hope because this Cubs team finally seems to have shaken the ghosts of yesteryear.
Maybe finally, this team can outrun the past, this team of (mostly) kids (and Grandpa Ross—who’s only 39) with great back stories, some sad and some gleeful but all real and their Zen-like coach who seems unflappable in the face of anything thrown his way. Cubs fans now have this weird collective belief that the team can actually achieve what seemed impossible for so long.
The Cubs might lose tonight but they might well win too and that hope is what will fuel every single Cubs fan as we watch tonight with baited breath, hanging on every pitch, cheering with the world. I wrote last week about how “It’s OK for Milwaukee to root for the Cubs” and, understandably got some negative feedback as well as some positive vibes as well.
I honestly don’t care now if Milwaukee does care but man, to watch this fall’s classic post-season, you have to like how it’s all played out, a World Series for the ages. And if the Cubs should win, you can bet the house on me ending up in a puddle of tears: tears of joy for the win and tears for all those who came and went before me, who never got to experience what might happen