This is one of the few sports-related posts you’ll read from me. But a break is in order from my usual geekdoms.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last day or so, you know that the Cubs have done the impossible and won the World Series after a 108-year drought.
This is kind of a big deal.
I’m not much of a sports person. When it comes to that topic, I’ve made sure to know enough about each of the major league American sports to follow the basics of a game, understand how it’s played, and even pick a favorite team here and there. But I have a lot of friends who are big into the minutiae of sports: statistics, business, owners, drafts, and even player rosters and attitudes. It’s a thing I haven’t done in well over two decades, and these days I’m for the most part content to simply ignore what happens in the sports world.
The Chicago Cubs are one of the FEW exceptions to that rule.
It’s been well over a decade since I’ve called Chicago home, but I spent my formative years in its metropolitan embrace–specifically, a northwest Indiana city called Hammond. It was there that I started collecting baseball cards, and got into sports with any degree of enthusiasm. As you can imagine, there are plenty of Cubs fans up there, and it was easy for me to get swept up in the fever, particularly in 1989 when Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, and Greg Maddux were part of a lineup that brought the Cubs the NL Eastern Division Championship that year. Watching them then get trounced by San Francisco was hard.
After that year, my interest in baseball largely declined. I still collected baseball cards for a few years, and followed the Cubs to some degree, as well as one individual player–Cal Ripken, Jr., whose unbroken streak of games played was something I greatly admired–but aside from knowing how the games were played, I’d largely abandoned any interest in sports, even as entertainment. There were simply other interests and hobbies I was more interested in learning about, comic books and superheroes in particular.
But my interest in the Cubs never completely died. I was watching in 2003, when poor Steve Bartman tried to catch a foul ball and possibly cost the Cubs the NL Championship. I watched as the Marlins went on to beat the Cubs, and I shook my head, and thought what so many Cub fans thought: “Maybe next year…”
And then last night happened.
Now Cub fans don’t have to say those words anymore; well, at least, not for a good long while.
I wasn’t watching the game when they won. In addition to being otherwise occupied, I wasn’t sure I could stomach a Game 7 World Series loss. I watched social media, though. I watched people’s Facebook feeds–I have a LOT of Cub fans on my friends list, apparently. And I’m glad I did. The game was dragging on. People were on the knife’s edge, unable to handle not knowing what was going to happen.
Twitter hit me with the news first. “Cubs are the 2016 World Champions!” someone tweeted. Then the MLB account tweeted about it. Then I saw my Facebook feed EXPLODE.
All the joy. All the tears of joy, the people celebrating in the streets. The videos of elders who waited their entire lives to see a Cubs win. The talk of how the Curse of the Billy Goat is now ended. Bill Murray talking about how anything is possible. And the unabashed happiness coming from my friends’ feeds, many of whom still live in the Chicagoland area.
I celebrate in spirit with all of them. I take joy from afar in the Cubs’ triumph, and for at least a moment, my 11-year-old Cub fan was given a glimpse of just how awesome it was for his team to go all the way.
Celebrate in victory, Cub fans. You deserve it!