Next Year Is Here!

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The reality has not quite sunk in. I saw that game, but I can’t quite believe that the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. After decades of being the underdogs and the butt of jokes, the Cubs are bringing home the world championship trophy from Cleveland.

After seven games slugging it out against the Cleveland Indians, with game seven delayed by rain and forced into extra innings, I admit that I was getting poised to repeat that Cubs fan mantra, “Wait ’til next year.” That wistful saying has been part of my life since childhood, and along with it, the disappointment tinged with eternal hope that was the lot of fans who gave their hearts to the north side team.

Over the years, the Cubs’ status as permanent underdog has been blamed on the famous Billy Goat Curse and memorialized in music and theater. Steve Goodman’s song, “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” was a sarcastic lament about the team’s certain failure year after year. It was made poignant only by the fact that Goodman wrote it while suffering from the leukemia which would take his life some years later. Meanwhile, Chicago theater luminary Joe Mantegna conceived a play titled Bleacher Bums about the less than well-mannered behavior of people in the cheap seats at Wrigley Field.

In the past two years, the excitement built for a young team loaded with talent and expertly led by Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon. The “W” flags started appearing much more frequently over Wrigley Field and in the windows of Chicago homes. People jumped on the Cubbie bandwagon, and team merchandise popped up in stores all over Chicagoland. “Go Cubs, Go,” a much more hopeful song penned by Steve Goodman, became the unofficial anthem for our beloved baseball team.

I cried when the Cubs won the World Series. I was thinking of my father, a die hard Cubs fan like many of his generation, who never got to see the Cubs win a World Series. My dad took us to games at Wrigley Field, taught us how to fill out the scorecards, bought us Frosty Malts, and took us on marathon marches back to where our car was parked after the game let out. I’d like to think he’s smiling down on his favorite team right now and singing along with fans, “Go Cubs, go. Go Cubs, go. Hey, Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today.”

It may be hard for Cubs fans to adjust to cheering for the winning team. Our status as dejected losers is so ingrained. Oh, well. I guess there’s always the Bears to keep us humble.