I don't like to talk about it, but the opportunity to win a World Series is edging ever closer to the Chicago Cubs once again. This is a team that has yanked defeat from the jaws of victory more times than I can count, and my father was just a boy living in Kansas when they made their last Series appearance. That would be, as Steve Goodman so succinctly put it, "the year we dropped the bomb on Japan."
There must be a connection between one's self-esteem and the team that one chooses to root for, as witnessed by the nickname Chicago wears proudly: The Second City. We might be just as comfortable calling them "The Also Rans", but that may be putting too fine a point on it. In the seventies and eighties, a new wave of Cub fans jumped on the creaky bandwagon, thanks to the "Superstation" WGN. You could watch the action at Wrigley Field from the comfort of your grass hut or igloo, your penthouse or homeless shelter. Cable TV gave an audience to a team that made the 1984 season worth watching. Rick Sutcliffe, Ryne Sandberg and Ron Cey became stars, as the Cubbies won ninety-six games that year, arriving in the postseason for the first time in nearly forty years. They lost to the Padres.
In 1989, many of the same players achieved essentially the same result. This time they lost the pennant to the San Francisco Giants, who went on to survive the Loma Prieta earthquake, only to be swallowed up by the Oakland A's. Then the lights went out on the North Side for a decade or so, until 2003, when the "curse" (because putting it in quotation marks makes it less believable) was seemingly about to be lifted. Thanks to alert fan, Steve Bartman, the Cubs rediscovered their bumbling ways and shuffled off to an early vacation, just one win shy of the World Series.
And now, it's 2007. They started the year by throwing things at each other (aside from the regulation approved baseballs) and looking like a team that would make more of the same history for the past ninety-nine years. Lou Pinella turned them around and made them winners. Could they win it all? The Cubs have one of the only historical aberrations left in baseball, so waiting for the hundredth year before celebrating another World Series win might just be overkill. That being said, I will close my mouth and wait patiently for news from the Windy City. Some say the Cubs wouldn't be the same lovable team if they won the World Series, a notion Bill Murray dismissed."I don't accept that," he said. "That's sick thinking. You've got to watch out for people like that." And now I really will stop talking about it.