Everyone knows that it is has been 108 years since the Cubs last won a World Series.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of stories written about long-suffering, real Cubs’ fans. Up until this year, I was one of them. This year, I decided to become a Bandwagon Fan.
Bandwagon Fans jump on board when the going’s good. They get the thrill of victory and not the agony of defeat. A Bandwagon Fan knows only about the ecstasy of 2016; a real fan feels the pain of 1984 (up 2-0 heading back to San Diego only to lose 3-2). A Bandwagon Fan knows only about the brilliance of Joe Maddon; a real fan remembers Rick Renteria (Sorry about that, White Sox fans). A BF knows only about the grace of Addison Russell; a real fan has Alex Gonzalez’s error etched forever in his or her memory (it should have been a double play to get the Cubs out of the eighth inning- had there been no error, no one would have remembered Steve Bartman–allow me to digress here–watch the video of the Bartman play; there were many people reaching for the ball, not just him. He, unfortunately, was the only one to touch it. The natural impulse is to reach for the ball when it’s coming at you–let it go, Cubs’ fans.).
A Bandwagon Fan knows only the acrobatic plays of Anthony Rizzo; a real fan can still see the ball rolling through Leon Durham’s legs. A Bandwagon Fan knows only the promise of Kris Bryant; a real fan is still waiting for Gary Scott to break out (any day now). A Bandwagon Fan loves the trade for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop; a real fan cringes every time Lou Brock’s name is mentioned (OK, I know this goes way back even before I was born, but when it is considered the worst trade EVER in the history of baseball, it deserves mention.).
A Bandwagon Fan thinks the free agent signing of Jon Lester was a game-changer; a real fan knows Danny Jackson’s 5-14 record while getting paid $2.6 million was a crime. A Bandwagon Fan can recognize Theo Epstein at Starbucks; a real fan thinks Ed Lynch should have worked at Starbucks (70 wins on average during his tenure). A Bandwagon Fan goes to Wrigley Field for the party atmosphere and not to watch the game; a real Cubs’ fan goes to Wrigley Field for the party atmosphere and not to watch the game.
Alright, who’s kidding whom? Putting down all these memories convinced me that I am a real Cubs’ fan. I can never be a Bandwagon Fan. It has me excited for this postseason. I know the Giants pose a real challenge and the Dodgers or Nationals–with some of the best young stars in the game–are looming. Come on, who wouldn’t love to see a Cubs-Red Sox World Series? However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
There is a great deal of history working against Cubs’ fans, but this year does feel different; this team has a vibe that separates itself from past teams. One may wonder why Cubs’ fans are so passionate about their team. For me, it’s pretty simple. My mom and dad lived their entire lives and only got to experience the Cubs in the World Series once, and they lost that one in 1945. They raised me to be a Cubs’ fan, and I’ve passed that passion on to my children. That’s what Cubs’ fans do–they pass it forward.
Now we are on the cusp of something that has not happened in 108 years. The Cubs have to “Raise the W” eleven more times and over a century of futility and heartbreak will end. All over the Chicagoland area, men and women will make trips to a cemetery and place hats or pennants on graves and celebrate with a loved one.
I know if that day does come–this year or any year–I will pause, shed a tear, and thank my parents for raising a real Cubs’ fan.