I’ve enjoyed baseball for as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of attending my first baseball game (the Omaha Royals) when I was probably 7, and of watching Game 7 of the 1985 World Series (Royals win in 7!) when I was 8. I followed the Rangers when I lived in Texas in high school and college, and enjoyed getting to see Nolan Ryan pitch and attending the 1995 MLB All-Star Game.
Then I moved to Iowa, and with a bunch of new friends who were Cubs fans, I became a Cubs fan. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
I remember sitting in a friend’s basement watching the famed Bartman game in 2003. They were so close to the World Series, and then collapsed. Again.
Then came 2016. The Cubs started off hot and stayed that way. I followed them more closely than I had in previous years, and my kids were now old enough to enjoy the games themselves. That the Cubs would make the playoffs seemed a foregone conclusion; the question was could they finally go all the way?
I told the girls that if the Cubs won the World Series, everybody would be getting new Cubs swag. As the playoffs progressed, I wondered a bit whether they were cheering the Cubs more to see them win, or to get new t-shirts. But cheer they did.
I pretty much lost faith around game 4 of the World Series. The Cubs were down 3 games to 1, and looked terrible doing it. I refused to watch Game 5. I didn’t want the stress. My wife turned on Game 6 after the Cubs took a lead. And then came Game 7.
You can’t not watch Game 7. And you can’t really send the kids to bed for it, either, even if it is a school night. We were feeling pretty good about it when the Cubs had a lead early. Addison was painting Cubs artwork in the basement during the middle innings. Then the Indians tied it up and my heart was in my stomach. Here comes the collapse, I thought.
Our youngest daughter finally gave up trying to stay awake about 10:30 and went to bed. When the game went to extra innings and a rain delay at 11:00, we sent the older two to bed. But 15 minutes later when the game resumed and the Cubs got a couple hits, they heard me yelp at the TV and came rushing back in to watch the game.
So at 11:30 on a school night, the four of us sat in bed and counted down the last three outs for the Cubs to win the Series. I hope it’s a memory that sticks with them as long as my memory of Bret Saberhagen coming off the mount to talk to George Brett prior to getting the final out in 1985.
Then this weekend we went shopping.
Maybe next year…
…they’ll win it again.