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Winner takes all

If you follow me here or on Twitter, you know how much of a Cubs fan I am. I've talked before about how important the Cubs were to my childhood, or at least their failures. >.< But that's something you have to understand about why them winning the World Series (THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!) is such a big deal. It's not just that they hadn't won a championship since 1908, the longest any U.S. sports team has gone without by a good forty years. It's not just that my grandfather went his entire life without seeing them win, and my dad has gone 75 years without seeing them win (like the tons of other people being spontaneously honored on the bricks outside Wrigley Field), and that watching and listening to the Cubs with them was such an important part of my childhood. It's not just that there are sweet stories like David Ross, the oldest player ever to be in the World Series, hitting a home run last night, or the rookie Carl Edwards, Jr., starting to pitch in the crucial bottom of the tenth inning, or that the emininetly shippable Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo (known as Bryzzo because they're best buds and bat one after the other) collaborated for the last out.

It's that after decades, even a century, of Cub fans going for years without even a shot at the playoffs and then having their hearts broken by ALMOST getting there but not quite, we've learned to protect ourselves. Like late-series SPN fans, we don't get our hopes up that we're going to get what we want. We have low expectations and are happy when we beat them. We see things start to go downhill, just start to decline, and we loudly proclaim, "Told you so! That's why we can't have nice things!" and give up hope. If we actually fall behind, we just want it to be over quickly so we don't have to watch.

And yet.

The Cubs had the best record in baseball for the entire season with the exception of a couple of days in July. They had by far the best record at the end of the season. In the first round of the playoffs, the Cubs were down by three runs in the ninth inning against San Francisco. They scored an incredible four runs and won the game and the series. That's the kind of comeback they normally don't manage. In the second round, they got shut out for two games in a row. Not a single run. But then they roared back, 10-2, 8-4, and 5-0, and went on to the World Series for the first time since (a month after) WWII. In the World Series, they lost two games at home, which was not only embarrassing but meant they were down 3-1 in the series. They had to win every game from that point on. And Cub fans being Cub fans, we wanted to believe, but it was so hard. I told myself it would be enough that they got to the Series, that next year would be better.

But they won one, and I told myself it would be enough that they won one at Wrigley, breaking the billy goat curse for good. Then they won two, and I told myself it would be enough that they got to Game 7. And then last night's game was one of the most ridiculously tense and exciting baseball games ever. But when the dust cleared, the tiny bit of hope I'd managed to keep was rewarded. The players have had the motto of "Never Give Up" all season, and even last night, when Cleveland tied it up in the 8th, and when it went into extra innings, they went right back out there and perservered.

And that's why this victory is so sweet. Because the Cubs of my childhood blew the lead; they didn't come from behind. This Cubs team has faith in each other, faith in themselves, and so the fans have faith in them, too. It's that perserverance and struggle and willingness to keep going that defines this team against the Cubs I'm used to, and I really like it.

Congratulations, Cubbies. You're the best.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 3rd, 2016 02:52 pm (UTC)
I thought of you so much listening to the game last night on the radio. You could have heard me yell in Chicago when Cleveland tied it. I had to turn it off at the rain delay, I was so nervous. What a year, season, series, game. One for the ages. Congrats to you and the rest of the faithful. Now I'm gonna go cry happy tears.
Nov. 5th, 2016 04:48 pm (UTC)
I cannot even express how nervous I was during that rain delay. On Twitter, fiercelynormal said that if this was a movie, someone would have said the script was beyond believability at that point. Can't say they didn't earn it!
Nov. 3rd, 2016 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This is beautiful and perfect. You've captured in a positive light something I've been feeling this season, and especially the last few weeks, that's worried me. How can we be true to our identity as Cubs fans if we finally win? I mean, seriously, I wear my ability to handle disappointed on my sleeve with pride. I couldn't reconcile the two states.

But what you wrote helped me to see it clearly. Winning doesn't negate who we've been, it honors it. It teaches us to transform the quick tendency to preemptively expect the worst (that tried and true defensive mechanism) into the strength to keep believing. And I think this win resets the pain threshold, shoring us up to keep hoping out loud next time things look glum. We don't have to dig back as far to remember it's possible. I'm not saying the instinct to assume the worst will ever go away - it's pretty deeply ingrained in my bones by now - but I think I'll be able to hold onto believing in (and dare I say expecting) good things to consider me our way beyond the first hiccup.

To all those who came before us and taught us how to persevere and thrive in the face of disappointing , derision and defeat, thank you for those valuable life lessons. I hope to teach the next generation both this ~and~ the feeling of joy that using faith, trust and teamwork to achieve victory brings.

And how freaking cool is it to be able to say "There's always next year", and have it mean a chance to win it all AGAIN? 😊
Nov. 5th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Dang it, woman, you made me cry. Again.

Your first paragraph kind of cracked me up, though, because it's the same exact thing that Red Sox fans said when they won in 2004. When I moved to Boston in 1999, I quickly became a Red Sox fan because their story of a lifetime of losing was nearly identical to the Cubs. And when they finally won the WS, it was after an even greater comeback, being down 3-0 in the division series against the hated Yankees. So I think it was as a Red Sox fan that I learned it was more than okay to believe, even in the bottom of the ninth down by 3 or down in the series 3-1, and I think that's what got me through the playoffs and the Series this year.

But yeah, Boston fans also went through that soul searching about, "Who are we now?" And I think they've managed okay (see 2007 and 2013). I think we will, too. ;)

Nov. 3rd, 2016 04:55 pm (UTC)
I am so, so, so happy for you (and all the other Cubs fans out there... but mostly you).

I thought I'd share with you my one link to the team: both of my guys (in different years) played for the Cubs in Little League. :DDD


 photo cubs_zpswjycvmu3.jpg
Nov. 5th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
OMG, such cuties!

(Thank you so much, sweetheart.)
Nov. 3rd, 2016 10:29 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of you the whole game - and the wonderful passion you and your dad share. I'm so happy for you! It was an amazing series, wasn't it!
Nov. 5th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you!

I'm not saying I wouldn't have enjoyed it more if it was easy, but there's something extra sweet about coming from behind twice. Especially given the history of this team. :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )