Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Cubs, the Sox, and the Apocalypse

Things are pretty exciting in Chicago right now. The air has turned cold and people seem to have a new energy. Perhaps some of that is attributable to the sense that history is being made in the world of Chicago baseball. Not since 1902 have the Cubs AND the Sox both made it to the play-offs, and the fact that it has happened now brings a sense of unreality. Should we be looking for a solar eclipse? Flying saucers? The four horsemen? Because this is something that Chicagoans figured would never happen.

In addition to the two-teams phenomenon is the fact that the Cubs, who finally seem like World Series contenders, last won the World Series EXACTLY one hundred years ago. This could be their sports Brigadoon. They win, and then disappear into the mist until 2108. :)

I grew up a Cubs fan--that is, I became one by osmosis. My father and my two brothers always had the games on, and I grew up to the summer sounds of 1970s baseball at Wrigley Field, Jack Brickhouse waxing poetic about the strengths of the team. I remember names like Rick Monday, Jose Cardinal, Billy Williams, Joe Pepitone, Bobby Dernier, Fergie Jenkins, Bill Hands. I can hear, in my mind's ear, the moaning of my male relatives when a ball was dropped; the yelling at the umpire who said "out" when someone was OBVIOUSLY safe; the laughter when Brickhouse said something funny.

I ended up marrying a Cubs fan, although that wasn't one of my criteria for a mate. My husband is far more devoted than I am. He watches the games, then the highlights, then the highlights on other channels. He scours the news for different coverage of the games. All summer he knew the schedule, the stats, the magic number.
In the past he always ended up swearing at the television for most of June and July, then went through a period of depression in August as he watched the Cubs remove themselves from contention. He often said, "That's it. I'm done."

As though a Cubs fan could ever stop being a Cubs fan. And now, now, the light is shining at the end of that tunnel, and the trophy waits there. Never mind all this nonsense about billy goats and curses and gypsies. The Cubs have waited a hundred years, and their fans feel that they've been holding their breath for that same century.

The elements have come together; fall is here, and there is a special feeling in the air. The Cubs are going to win the World Series. Sorry, Sox fans. But at least you'll make the play-offs. :)

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