The Cubs have won the World Series!!! What are you going to do next? Mope around, I guess.
After 108 years of World Series drought the 2016 Chicago Cubs have finally won it all. And I can’t seem to enjoy it. It was quite a roller coaster ride, the awesome season, the wins over the Giants and Dodgers and finally reaching the pinnacle of the sport. I should be ecstatic. But I’m not and I’m still trying to figure out why.
I have been a Cubs fan for as long as I can remember. My mother had told me that my first baseball game was when I was a newborn at a Kansas City A’s game (!), but when we moved to the Chicagoland area in the late 1960’s, the Cubs were hot and I became a fan. I can remember being little and watching Santo hit a home run on opening day and then running out to the garage and telling my dad and brother, who were deep into some mechanical project and probably could not have cared less. But I have bled Cubbie blue as they say, since that time.
Many Cub fans have carried that burden of being beholden to the “loveable losers” for so long, and it seems that the relationship has now changed for me. They are no longer losers. There was a diehard Cubs fan being interviewed on the news that replied to a question from the reporter that really resonated with me. When asked if the Cubs winning had sunk in yet, she replied that it hadn’t. She said that being associated with a team that has consistently let us down, we only knew how to expect the worst and to deal with losing. She really wasn’t sure how to celebrate them winning the World Series, because it hadn’t happened for generations of fans. I can really relate to that point. I don’t know how to enjoy this.
But in all honesty, I think I let myself down. After getting into the playoffs in 2015 and then having a quick exit, I told myself that I was no longer going to be emotionally invested in this team, or really any team anymore. I couldn’t take the losing. My thought was that by being detached from it emotionally, if they won a game I could be happy, and if they lost, well I wouldn’t have lost sleep over it. Essentially, I guess I wasn’t a die-hard fan anymore because I just couldn’t take them losing any longer.
As a youth baseball coach, I had confessed several times that I almost always felt worse about beating another team than when we lost. I just felt bad for the other team for some reason. I knew as a long time Cubs fan that losing sucks.
Game 7 of the World Series was everything the sport’s final deciding game should be. It had the drama of the two teams with the longest World Series droughts battling it out in the final game of the year. The Cubs jumped out to a lead that we all new would never be a comfortable one. I sat in my chair watching the game in an almost catatonic state. I wasn’t moving, blinking, or anything – just breathing and watching. As if on cue, the supposed “curse” was starting to kick in and by the time our closer gave up the game tying two run homer in the eighth inning, I was convinced that it was over. I couldn’t take the pressure and went to bed.
As I lay in bed, I tried to sleep and nodded off at least once thanks to getting my mind off of it by listening to a little music. But the bedroom door was cracked open slightly and I could still tell that my wife was still up watching the game. I knew it had been tied, but figured they would have lost after listening to at least one full album of music. So I hit replay and listened again and tried to fall back to sleep. Hopefully I would wake up to the Cubs being World Series champs, or get up to the already familiar feeling of we almost did it. But then I heard fireworks.
As I wandered back out to the living room, my wife looked at me and patiently let me come to the realization that the Cubs had done the improbable. They had won. I sat on the couch and watched the replays over and over again. It didn’t seem real, but there was the proof. Bryant, Rizzo, and gang being interviewed. The celebrity fans in the locker room. The fireworks still going off. And I missed it. I missed it because I couldn’t stand the thought of them losing again. This time the Cubs hadn’t let me down, I had.
By winning, the Cubs took something from me it seems. They took the part of what being a fan of that team was – being able to love them even though they let us down for over a century. I’m not sure how to accept that they are no longer the “loveable losers.” I need therapy.
A few days have now passed since the Cubs won the title and I’m feeling a little better. I’m enjoying the celebrations that have gone on in the city, the special thoughts by long time Cub fans on social media, and the burden of being perennial losers has been lifted. I think I have started to take a little more pride in the team, and can stop punishing myself. But I might have to atone for my lack of faith. I’m no longer rooting for a loser. I’m rooting for the Cubs. The 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. That’s going to take a while to sink in.