I have to thank the Cubs of 2008 for all of the happiness and wins this year. It was a momentous, incredible season. I don't think I have ever cheered as loud and as hard as I did this past summer.
And despite a disappointing end, this season went a long way to renewing my faith in the team...and emboldening and strengthening the hope I have for this team that I hold deep within me. I have to tell myself that I cannot let an unfathomable final act diminish any of the joy and delight that his summer brought to me. Yet, I can also allow myself time to grieve; as ridiculous as it will sound to some, these past two days felt to me as if I had lost a dear, true friend.
Because of the somewhat operatically tragic and crushing blow delivered to our season and the heartache, pain, and sadness it brought to me, I had to wonder, how are other Cubs fans reacting to this hard-to-believe ending?
Well, check out this article...
Pretty bleak, eh? I had to wonder what the intentions were of the person who wrote, "Dear Chicago Cubs 2008; It really hurts knowing I'll never see you again. We had some great times." Man...can I relate to that one person. Was this person merely saying farewell to the team of 2008? I have to hope that's the case.
Or was it something more? Abandoning the team as a fan? Suicide? As preposterous as it may seem to some, those last two, drastic options have actually been considered by more than one Cubs fan since this past Saturday night.
I want to find these people, grab them, hold them, hug them, tell them it's going to be all right. I want to tell them that it's okay to cry...to scream...to yell...to curse...to be depressed...to feel completely numb.
But it's NOT okay to stop hoping...we cannot, we must not EVER give up on our dream. I want to tell them that we can NEVER abandon this life, give up this or any of our dreams, or desert OUR team; we cannot do any of those things because those are decisions for the weak-hearted. And...true Cubs fans, the ones that have been there their whole life...are NOT weak-hearted.
There are two very special people I owe many heartfelt thanks to for reminding me of all of those things this past weekend.
Cubs fans have to find a way to yet again renew their passion. I want to remind those people who have lost all hope that, as Eddie Vedder says in "All The Way", his song dedicated to the Cubs and their fans, "we are NOT fair-weather, but foul-weather fans". We are there through the best AND the worst. We're not like Dodger fans...who fill their park for only half of the regular-season games but pack it to capacity once their team is on the brink of the Playoffs. In defense of this fact, some people say, "Well, what do you expect? It's LA." Or they'll say, "Well, most stadiums around the country don't sell out EVERY game. Most regular-season games are played in front of half-empty stadiums."
My point exactly; it's not like that at Wrigley Field. We fill that stadium for every, single game. And some people would say we're "losers", or "idiots" for doing so...for showing such devotion and loyalty to a team that "can't win". But, we don't pack the place wall to wall for 81 games because of those reasons; we do it because we hold onto hope...we have faith...we believe.
I want to help Cubs fans cling to hope, give them some of the strength that those who love me have helped me to find within myself. Reassure them that if we just keep believing, holding on, waking every day knowing that SOMEDAY our faith will be rewarded...that's enough to keep us hanging on. Isn't it?
I want to find those people who have "given up"...and I want to make them promise me that they will never lose their hope. If I can find the strength to come back again, so can they; I want to make them promise me that.
It HAS to happen eventually...
Regardless as to whether it's next year, the year after, or ten years from now, I will keep hoping, believing, and cheering. And with help from those who love me (special thanks to Jennifer, George, Ana, Mina, King, Emily, and Jim)...I will find the strength to hang on. I'll hold that one, beautiful vision in my head and use it as inspiration to come back again next year, to risk suffering the same heartache.
To quote Eddie Vedder again, I will look to the memory of the day I was "blessed and healed...the first time I walk[ed] into Wrigley Field" and remind myself that it is a journey, a long voyage, one filled with both joy and misery. I will cherish the notion of the "magic in the ivy", the vision of sitting in that ballpark with some of the people I love; Jennifer, Ana, Mina, George, Mindy, my Father, my Mother. I will hold onto that feeling of joy, love, and comfort and remind myself that part of the joy of winning the big one...is enduring the process of getting there.
I will take it day by day...I will wear my Cubbie blue with pride...and I will know that it means more than just the symbol on my chest or hat...it means that I have a strength and conviction that's rare to find. I will summon the courage to hold my head high, I will remind myself that "in a world full of greed, I could never want more than" one dream, and I WILL in my heart of hearts...believe...
...someday...we'll go all the way.
Thank you, Chicago Cubs....see you next year...
It's almost impossible for me to put into words what it means to me to be a die-hard, lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs.
When I have attempted to put that meaning to writing in the past...some people have responded by calling me crazy. Some have responded by saying that the Chicago Cubs are "trivial". They tell me the Cubs aren’t, in the grand scheme of things, that important to my life. They try to make me “understand” that I'm foolish to invest so much of myself in the success of a team that I have no “real” connection to.
Because of my love for the Cubs, I've suffered through some of my darkest days. I've endured insults. I've been mocked. I've been subjected to torture both physical and mental at the hands and mouths of foes and supposed "friends" alike. People have called me a "loser"; they've laughed in my face as my heart broke...year after year. Because of my love, I've been through all kinds of hell that I wager to say many people and even sports fans can't even imagine; well...with the exception of the Red Sox fans I know.
To all those people, to my friends and foes, I say this; watch all the videos and read all the stories at this page...
If after taking all of that in, they still can't understand or respect what it means to me to be a Cubs fan...what that team means to me, then perhaps they never will. But, maybe I can feebly attempt to at least try to help them understand...
I know what the Cubs mean to me. I'm aware of the fact that they have captured my heart in a way that few things or people in my life ever have. I know that my passion for them goes deeper than almost everything else in my life; and this passion is rooted in something deep and meaningful.
I remember my first Cubs game so fondly and clearly. My family took me when I was still just a young boy, and from that day on, I was hopelessly lost to the magic of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. From that first walk up the stairs to the Terrace Reserved section to my most recent trip there this past June, Wrigley Field is my "home". It is my "mecca"...it is a place I dream of both during the day and while I sleep at night. It's a place where the incredible can happen, where losses pierce your heart like the sharpest arrow, wins can bring you to euphoria that rivals any major life event, and where the impossible can be accomplished. It's a place where the grass is greener than any I've ever laid eyes on in all my travels, and where the sky is brighter and more blue than any ocean. It's where I want to be laid to rest when I finally leave this Earth because it, like the team itself, means more than the sum of its parts. It's where my love was born...and where I go to affirm that love.
And, despite all the pain I've endured, all the vitriol and bile that's been directed at me because of it (for reasons that are still quite unclear to me, honestly. Even I was happy for White Sox fans when their beloved team finally won “The Big One” in 2005), I know that my love and my hope will always be a part of me. What's more, I've passed my love on to both my wife and my beautiful niece; and I know that if I leave this Earth before they do, they will always root for the Cubbies. What's more, if the Cubs don't win a World Series until after I am gone, my wife and niece and those who know and love me will celebrate in my memory, they will think of me, and they will thank me for passing that part of who I am on to them.
When I think of the Cubs, I usually think of one-word associations and memories; Harry. Addison. Clark. Sheffield. Prior. Bartman. Maddux. Dawson. Sandberg. Grace. WGN. Chicago. Zambrano. Wrigley. Goat. Curse. Love. But, as you have already likely surmised, it's obviously not that simple. The Cubs, like their Home Field, are more than the sum of these parts...these associations and recollections.
To me, and to so many others, they are more because they symbolize something greater; hope, loyalty, endurance, love, pride, tenacity, the strength to carry-on, the ability to keep a dream alive...EVERYTHING that I hold near and dear to my heart, that makes me who I am, that signifies all that I believe in...
...and no matter how bad things get, I will ALWAYS believe. I will always hope. And I need...and deserve to have that hope, belief, and faith rewarded.
So, maybe after watching the videos and reading the stories on those pages...and after reading this blog, maybe some of the people I’m trying to reach will understand. Or, at the very least, they'll begin to respect and understand what the Chicago Cubs and my love for them mean to me. It's not up for debate as to whether or not this love is unhealthy (of course it's unhealthy to some degree). But, perhaps, at the very least, they'll now refrain from or at least think twice before making wise-cracks to my face about the Cubs.
Because, if nothing more, I'm hoping they'll understand...
what it means to me...
to be a Cubs fan.
Go, Cubs, go.