For The Love Of My Team
Most of the sporting teams I support are not very successful. In fact several of the teams I follow are cursed in some way, shape or form. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to hear that I am a Chicago Cubs fan.
The Chicago Cubs have the longest losing drought in the history of world sports. The last time they won a World Series was in 1908. That was a time when World Wars hadn’t yet occurred and standard household items like refrigerators simply didn’t exist.
So why did I sign up for this?
I originally chose to support the Cubs because they were one of the oldest teams in baseball. I’ve always had a soft spot for sporting organizations with a long history, coupled with traditions that were around long before I arrived. Another reason I gravitated towards them was because they play their home games at the most beautiful ballpark on the planet – Wrigley Field. Last but certainly not least, as a young kid growing up in the 80’s, I appreciated the fact that there were significant references to this team in movies I loved like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Back to the Future.
Now baseball is a sport that I only followed from a distance when I was in high school – i.e. about once a month I would look up the standings in the newspaper to see how the Cubs were doing.
That all changed in 2003 – which is rather ironic – because in that same year, the Cubs were stung yet again by the ‘Curse of Billy the Goat‘.
That year I was fresh out of university and began my first office job as an online sports producer. My manager at the time happened to be a baseball fanatic. We got along very well because we shared a love for sport and I soon learned that he also supported a cursed team – the Boston Red Sox.
Now, the Boston Red Sox have been very successful in the last 12 years, but back in 2013 they still carried the ‘Curse of the Bambino‘.
My manager sat in the cubicle next to me and almost always had headphones in between 9am and 1pm. For a while, I just assumed he was listening to music, but I eventually learned that during those times he was watching/listening to live commentary of Red Sox games.
It was one of the coolest digital innovations I’d seen, and I wanted to get in on the action.
About a month later, I signed up for an MLB.TV account – and so began my real passion for the Cubbies.
Things were looking good for both of our ball clubs that year. The Cubs and Red Sox qualified for their respective Conference Championships (the penultimate game before the World Series) and we fantasized about the potential of witnessing a clash of the two curses.
It so very nearly happened, but alas… the Red Sox were beaten on the final play of the deciding game against their rivals, the New York Yankees.
As for the Cubs…well they were a couple of outs away from reaching the World Series in their clash with the Florida Marlins before something truly extraordinary happened.
After that moment, (you guessed it) the Cubs blew their lead and went on to lose the series.
That fan became the most hated man in Chicago and had to go into hiding. There have been several documentaries and books written about this incident and his whereabouts are still somewhat unknown.
Anyway on that day, my manager and I sat in the office with deadly silence – trying to digest the latest episode of heartbreak for our jinxed teams.
The Red Sox ended their curse the following year and have won several times since then.
As for the Cubs – well it’s been another 12 years of pain.
I was lucky enough to visit Chicago in 2014. It’s hard to put into words just how passionate the locals are about this team. When you walk the streets, you see people in Cubs shirts and hats wherever you go. Almost every bar and restaurant has a big screen with Cubs games playing. There are even seats that have been taken out of Wrigley Field and displayed along the main roads as monuments. It’s hard to believe that Chicago is home to another baseball team (The White Sox) because you only see blue and red when you walk around this city.
I attended a Cubs game one Sunday afternoon in June, and it was one of the best days of my life. Wrigley Field needs to be experienced to be understood. It’s located in the suburbs and as you walk through the gates you are confronted with picturesque Ivy walls and a hand-turned scoreboard. One can’t help but get caught up in the romance of being inside a dated venue that hasn’t been turned upside down with modern development. If you attend sporting events often, you will know exactly how rare this is.
In the middle of the seventh inning of every game, a different person gets on the microphone and leads the crowd in a rendition of the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
It’s very easy to forget about the challenges of real life when you experience moments like these.
That afternoon, I realized that in a strange way, the Cubs were bigger than baseball itself. Over the years I’d met many Americans who said “I don’t like baseball but I love the Cubs” – and I finally understood what they meant. What happened on the pitch was very important, but it was only part of it.
Unsurprisingly, the Cubs lost that day. But what else is new? They have been losing for decades.
And so here I am, two years later, writing about this team I love.
Things have changed in recent times and something magical is happening.
The Cubs are winning.
In fact this talented group of players won 103 games this season, which is an incredible achievement. Over the weekend, they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to finally earn an appearance on baseball’s biggest stage. It’s honestly something I never thought I’d witness in my lifetime.
Truth be told, I shed a couple of tears.
Sport has a weird way of doing that to grown men.
The World Series starts today – and the Cubs will be there.
Win or lose I’ll always love them.
Go Cubs Go!
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