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I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a huge Chicago Cubs fan. When I was 6 or 7 years old, my parents got cable for the first time. It was one of those old punch-button cable boxes, and my brother and I discovered that cable channel 3 in Amarillo carried a superstation called WGN, broadcasting out of Chicago. And on that station, just about every afternoon in the summer, was a Chicago Cubs baseball game. (And when the Cubs weren’t playing, classic Scooby-Doo episodes were on, and that was cool, too.)
There is nothing better for a 7-year-old boy than watching baseball on hot summer afternoons. Even if it was on TV.
We got hooked back then, and we’re still Cubs fans today. It’s been a long, rocky relationship. We were fans in 1984, when the Cubs lost the pennant in Game 5 to San Diego. We were fans of Bill Buckner, before he went to the Red Sox and committed the hugest error in MLB history. We were fans of Harry Caray and Leon Durham and Ryne Sandberg and Bobby Dernier and Andre Dawson. We’ve suffered through Brant Brown and Bartman, through Kerry Wood the strikeout phenom and Kerry Wood the frequently disabled bust (and we’re ready to grit our teeth through the year of Kerry Wood the Closer). We’re hopeless Cubs fans, which means we are full of hope every year — this could be the year — only to see that hope dashed on the rocks of injury and error and classic meltdowns and really, really bad teams.
Thanks to the Cubs, we’ve learned how to handle disappointment. We’ve learned what it means to be hopeful. We’ve learned to always look to next year.
And 2008 just might be “next year.” Plenty of baseball experts, from Baseball Prospectus to Sports Illustrated, are predicting that the Cubs will make the 2008 World Series. I’m hesitant to join them, just because I know it’s a long season and who knows what can happen? But why shouldn’t this year be the year? It’s 2008, the 100th anniversary of the last time the Cubs won the World Series, way back in 1908. It’s the year they finally have a well-balanced team, with a great offense and a good pitching staff and a (potentially) dominant closer. And an excellent manager in Lou Piniella. This could be the year. The curse could be lifted. The clouds could open and shine upon the green ivy of Wrigley Field.
At any rate, I’m convinced of one thing: it may be unchristian at this point not to pray for the Cubs to win the series.