Hope Falls Eternal
October 15, 2003
After last night, I might have to break up with the Cubs again. It’s not that I don’t love them, I do, it’s just that our relationship is not healthy. Time and time again, they are not able to give me what I want. They try, I know they try, but somehow, someway, I always end up frustrated and hurt. Yet I keep coming back to them, hoping that this time things will be different. Last night showed that nothing’s really changed, that they will find a way to lose when a win, one win that’s five outs away, is all that our relationship needs to make everything wonderful. Tonight, they’ve got one more chance to show me that they can meet my needs at least once every five or six decades by getting to the World Series. I’m a reasonable woman, I don’t even ask that they win the Series; I just want to see them get there before I die.
I last broke up with the Cubs in 1984 after the Padres series. I can still remember the shock and disbelief I felt watching them drop those games in San Diego. When they showed the unhighlights of that third loss in last night’s broadcast, I was transported back to the tv lounge in North Case Hall, searching the faces around me to see if anyone could make sense out of what just happened. But there was no sense to be made. Cubness does not make sense.
I didn’t know about Cubness when I started watching them. All I knew was that I liked seeing the games on tv, liked knowing that almost every summer afternoon I could hang out with them in my living room. If cable had been around back then, maybe I never would have become a Cubs fan. I certainly wouldn’t have picked it up from my parents, neither one of whom cared about sports of any kind. But because I only had half a dozen channels to choose from and the Cubs were usually on one of them when I had the most time to spend watching, I got sucked in and hooked. Only later did I realize I’d given my heart to an organization of perennial losers. By then it was too late. Instead of collecting memories of divisional championships and World Series appearances, I collected magazine articles about the Cubs sparkling record of futility. (I keep these in the humor section of my clipping file, because if I can’t laugh about this, it will make me crazy. It may make me crazy anyway.)
Still, past performance is no guarantee of future results. The fact that the Cubs have failed to get a pennant since 1945 doesn’t mean they won’t get one this year. The fact that they dropped three games in a row to the Padres to lose the title in 1984 doesn’t mean they won’t win one this year. The fact that Kerry Wood struggled against the Marlins earlier in this series doesn’t mean he won’t dominate tonight. Right? Right? I will just keep telling myself those things and maybe they’ll become true. In any case, I’m going to open the asti that I’ve been saving for a special occasion. Either I’ll use it to celebrate a Cubs victory or to make a toast to next year, that magical time when all things are possible.
A year ago, the US Postal Service was delivering the quilt I made for Chuck.