My first Cubs game was at Wrigley on May 17, 1979. I was just a kid. My dad brought me. It was an absolutely crazy game. One of the craziest major league games in history. Absolute slugfest. After the war-zone cleared, in extra innings, the score was 23-22. The Cubs lost. And I began to love the lovable losers and Wrigley Field ever since. (By the way, the stat sheet for that game is insane!)
It was something about the Ivy. It was something about the Windy City. It was something about Shawn Dunston and Ryne Sandberg and chants of JO-DY DA-VIS. It was something about listening to Harry Caray call the game (and anything else that came to his mind) while Steve Stone tried to keep him focused on task. It was something about Mark Grace and Andre Dawson. It was something about the gentle power of the smile of Ernie Banks. It was something about the rooftop grill. It was something about Clark and Addison and Waveland and Sheffield. It was something about my baseball cards and Dave Kingman and Bruce Sutter and Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams and Ron Santo. It was something about the fans throwing back the opposing team’s home run. It was something about the long summer afternoons watching WGN or sitting in the bleachers in the sun as a kid.
It was something about catching a foul ball in seats next to my brother in Wrigley like I was Ferris Bueller.
It was something about catching a Home Run batting-practice ball with my son Zach (off of Kris Bryant in 2015 while at Target Field).
It was something about instagram-ing a picture of my Chicago dog only to be justifiably ripped apart by my Cubs-fan-friends because it got ketchup on it. Anathema. Accountability. Thank you.
And… It was something about the continual breaking of my heart. I always thought that 5 outs from a win there was a good chance for a loss. That’s sad. And sweet. Because I just couldn’t stop singing “Ah one, ah two, ah three. Take me out to the ballgame… Root, root, root for the Cubbies…”
Someday. Some year. Might be this year.
Taken almost completely out of context, Romans 5:3-4 is my life-verse motto for the Chicago Cubs.
We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Suffering produces perseverance. 108 years of it, in the Cubs case.
Perseverance produces character. Except for a few please-discard-from-history temptations, the Cubs fans and players have been people I was proud to stand among. This year’s team was the epitome of that idea. Young guys, super young guys, super passionate young guys, encouraged and tempered by the altruistic older generation of players and coaches and fans, equipped by the long-storied shoulders upon which they stood. This young team has respected the legacy of the old and made the legends of Banks and Williams and Santo and Sandberg proud.
Character produces hope.
Congratulations 2016 Cubs.