Go Cubs Go

Tonight the Cubs are playing Game 3 of the NLCS against the New York Metropolitans. As a lifelong Cubs fan, it goes without saying that I am excited/stoked/amped, etc. Baseball fans know the history of the Cubs: no World Series win since 1908, no WS appearance since 1945 (the year of the Billy Goat), and no NLCS appearance since 2003. We’ve played in Wrigley since 1914, and no WS titles there. Last week they clinched their first ever postseason series at Wrigley. That’s right, in 101 years, they had never clinched a postseason series victory at home. How especially sweet that they did it against their division rival St. Louis Cardinals, who won a World Series in their first year in their new stadium in 2006.

I was watching a hype video created specifically for this NLCS, and it was bookended with clips from the 2003 NLCS and older footage of Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. It places this series in its historic setting, but more than that, it reminds Cubs fans why we’re Cubs fans. Surely many of us are Cubs fans because our parents were Cubs fans, our grandparents too, and maybe even our great-grandparents.

When I see footage of Ernie Banks I get emotional, not because I remember him playing (he was retired well before I was born), but because I know how much my grandpa loved watching him play. And though I didn’t see Ron Santo play, I do know that my grandpa called him “puss gut,” and I loved hearing the raucous excitement of Santo as an announcer for many years.

In a pretty foundational way, sports allegiances are an entity onto which to project our longings and griefs, and Cubs fans get a double portion of the griefs. I get emotional watching the Cubs because I love the Cubs, but I get even more emotional when they tug at the heartstrings of history, because it’s not just Cubs history, it’s family history. So it’s Anthony Rizzo, Derek Lee, Mark Grace or Ernie Banks at first, and it’s also me now, in college, as a child, and my mom’s family watching the Cubbies fifty years ago.

I imagine the ‘69 Cubs breaking my grandpa Johnson’s heart. I remember the ‘89 Cubs breaking my seven year old heart (to this day, if you put an image of Will Clark in front of my face smoke comes out of my ears). ‘03 the same. Every Cubs fan has experienced the excitement of promise ending in heartache. None have experienced the joy of that ultimate victory.

I don’t know how this series will play out. I don’t know if this is the year. But I know that I’m a Cubs fan. I can’t not be a Cubs fan. It’s in my bones, my blood, my history. I’ll get my hopes up, hopes weighed heavy with the hopes of my forefathers, and maybe they’ll be dashed. But then again, maybe they won’t.

Go Cubs go.