Cubs fans have learned to spend their lives waiting. Waiting for the other foot to drop, waiting for the championship that’s eluded us for the past century, waiting, is simply what we do.
Tom Petty once said that the, “waiting, is the hardest part.” I’d normally qualify that by mentioning that he was talking about love, not baseball, but the truth of the matter is that perhaps no love is so true as that between the Cubs and their fans.
The Chicago Cubs have, for years, toiled in mediocrity and worse. Every so often, they tease us just enough to make us believe that this just might be the year, that this time, it may be real, that curses will be broken and droughts ended and every time, invariably, in the end, we’re left crushed and defeated.
So, days like this past Saturday are rare ones indeed. For one day, after one game, for a little while at least, we Cubs fans learned what it’s like to exhale. The Cubs clinched the divisional Championship and a spot in the playoffs. The sports world in general has been expecting this all year and so nationally, not much fuss was made. On the same day, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays clinched their first divisional title in their short franchise history and that news seemed to trump what was seen as the inevitability of the Cubs winning theirs this year.
Inevitable isn’t a word we Cubs fans can understand or appreciate though. Sure, we all believe somewhere deep down that a Cubs World Championship is inevitable—that it will happen at some point, that fate can only deny us for so long, but we also know better than to believe that it may actually happen in our lifetimes.
So, with this Saturday’s win, and the subsequent celebration we fans were afforded the rare opportunity of taking a couple of days off. We can learn the joys of breathing deeply and relaxing. We can watch a game and not live and die with every single pitch. We can actually lose games through the rest of the season without any anxiety.
Of course, this only lasts a week or so. Soon the playoffs begin and our throats will tighten, we’ll inhale and hold, our anxiousness will return—and all will be magnified. That’s the way the playoffs are for any fan of any team though. We Cubs fans simply practice it all year long.
Now it’s time to enjoy our week off though. There’s no need to wait for the other foot to drop because we’ve already assured ourselves a place in the big dance. And while we’re still waiting for our long sought World Series Championship, we can rest and relax content, knowing that we’ve earned a chance to compete for it again.
Normally, this kind of peace is reserved the offseason, for the winters when hope rebuilds inside of us and renews itself for another shot at another quest for that which eludes us. We’re not used to having this time to rebuild our hope as we rest up for the next phase of the journey. And so it is, with hope renewed, breath exhaled, anxiety temporarily relieved, we look to the future and dare to believe that this might really be the year.
Please God, let his be the year?