Give and take just part of Cubs faith
As I see it, spring is the greatest season not because of the longer days and warmer months. It’s great because no team in Major League Baseball is out of the World Series hunt — even my Chicago Cubs, which have more than 100 years of curses and a history of losing to their name.
This spring, though, I’m down in the dumps. It seems my “bleeding Cubbie blue” loyalty has turned into a class IV hemorrhage.
My figurative wounds became unbearable earlier this week during a Cubs series with the Cincinnati Reds. As I watched my team lose due to missed chances and botched plays, and after 24 years of my life, I wondered if putting my hopes on the “Lovable Losers” was a waste of time.
The team’s record on the season became 17-23 following Tuesday’s loss (They won Wednesday to improve their record to 18-23). A not-so-terrible record, to be sure, but I’ve watched enough to know my Cubbies aren’t going anywhere this year. Other than young infielders Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney (and the very speculative addition of Albert Pujols in the offseason!), there’s little to be excited about for the future, either.
So, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen that I was “done with the Cubs!” in May.
I was dead serious, too. For a time, anyway.
We Cubs fans need to be resilient, but with so much heartache, we need to know when to watch and when to turn off the TV. More often than not the Cubs take me through the same five stages in the season: Optimism turns to enthusiasm turns to anger turns to disappointment turns to apathy. It just seems I’ve hit stage five several months too early this season.
Being a Cubs fan means being eternally optimistic and realistic, but it means so much more. It’s like asking for a woman’s hand in marriage because, once it happens, life will undoubtedly never be the same. Just as marriages might have a bad year, my allegiance to the Cubs has been tested. Both parties need to work at it, too, and it just doesn’t feel like Cubs management is working at it right now.
A column like this is difficult territory to tread because I really do believe we Cubs fans are a loyal bunch, not the fair-weather type we’re often accused of being. It’s fans like me that name our first-born sons Ryne and our dogs Wrigley I and Wrigley II. Passion can only allow me to watch so many heart-breaking losses, though.
Make no mistake, I will be back watching Cubs games. It may not be tomorrow and it may not be next week, but eventually I will find the courage to turn the TV on again.
My approximately 18-year marriage to the club is just a small bit of the tragedy that is the Cubs’ history. The team, for anyone unaware, hasn’t won the World Series since 1908. To put things in perspective, since that time both radio and television were invented, four states were welcomed into the Union, two World Wars were fought, 19 U.S. presidents were sworn into office, and the New York Yankees won 27 of those elusive championships.
I’ve never been one to believe in curses — The Billy Goat, The Black Cat, Steve Bartman. I believe a World Series championship will come to Chicago’s north side someday. It’s not about when and it’s not about how, but just believing it will come is what sports are all about.
After all, being a Cubs fan is the most optimistic position to be in: There’s always next year.
Michael Leach is lifestyles editor at The Fairfield Ledger.