The Cubs century of futility
So, here we are sitting on the precipice of 100 years of not winning the World Series. What keeps the Cubs fans from giving up? Is it the supposed "Lovable Loser" status? If that's the case, will they lose a bunch of fans if they did become champions? Perhaps it's the charm of Wrigley Field, which these days is turning more and more into a decaying reminder of days gone by. I think the draw of the whole thing is the possibility of saying, "I saw them win it all in my lifetime". From my own perspective, I would be beside myself with glee if that did happen. Cubs' fans would have bragging rights over the baseball world right up until they were eliminated from playoff contention the following year. It would be bliss. Heaven on Earth even.
That brings us right back to the question, "Is this finally next year?" Cubs' fans have had the miserable ability to say that year after year for almost 100 years now. And, they will keep saying it until it finally does happen. I believe management has finally decided enough is enough and are spending the money necessary to put a good team on the field. Maybe you remember some of the dregs of the baseball world that wore the Cubs' uniform. Jerry Morales, Mick Kelleher, Dave Kingman, Jerry Martin, Steve Swisher, Dick Ruthven, Carmen Fanzone, Larry Biittner, Dennis Lamp, etc. A who's that? of the baseball world. Some of the players above were fixtures at Clark and Addison for years owing to the front office saying who cares if we win because the people will still fill the seats. And, they would. But, that doesn't mean they don't want a winner.
I lived in the Chicago area until 1986. Now, I'm not quite old enough to remember the heartbreaking season of 1969, but I remember 1984 like it was yesterday. I can still name practically every player that played for the Cubs that season. That summer was magic. The Cubs spend the season battling with the Mets until a summer Saturday when they swept a doubleheader from the team from Queens. I was at a family picnic in a park, and I remember everyone clamoring to find out how they were doing that day. I made frequent trips to the family car to turn on the radio to catch updates. Everyone was ecstatic as news was passed on that they won the first game. The picnic broke up during the second game, but the Cubs had the lead as everyone parted ways. Shortly after that, I can remember the image of Jim Frey running across the field in Pittsburgh while stuffing his hat down the front of his jersey so it didn't get lost in the melee celebration. I also remember crying as the Cubs blew a 2-game lead in the playoffs to the Padres. They always come back to break your heart.
Anyway, I know the city felt the same way in 2003 as Prior and Wood caught lightning in a bottle, only to see it burn out in early fall again.
As I sit here only mere days away from the start of another season, I tingle with anticipation. All the "experts" are predicting a good season. Most are predicting a division title with a playoff loss. A couple oddballs are predicting the trip to the World Series, and there probably is at least one out there that thinks "this is next year". Myself, I'm cautiously optimistic. I think they are one of the better teams in the NL, and I believe this could be the first time they ever made the playoffs in back-to-back years. But, I won't buy into the dream of the World Series for the Cubbies....until September that is.