As a child growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I loved the Chicago Cubs. A colorful aunt followed them religiously on WGN radio. She had a deeply passionate relationship with her team. Of course I gravitated toward the Cubs.
I haven’t followed the Cubs, or baseball, for three decades. When I think of the Cubs I am stuck in an early1980s time warp: Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus, and Ryne Sandberg in the infield; Jerry Morales and Dave Kingman in the outfield; Bruce Sutter and his split-finger fastball on the mound. As a child and adolescent, I alternately wore my loyalty to my team as a badge of integrity and as a sign of bad judgment. I stopped following the Cubs because I moved to New York City and, since then, have rarely watched professional sports.
So I was surprised to find myself, over and over, welling up with emotion as the Cubs moved to the national league championship series and then onto the World Series. Their championship win now binds my election anxiety and generates magical thinking. Anything is possible, election day and beyond. The Cubs have won the world series – no challenge is insurmountable.
What does it say about me that I worry about the future of the Cub fan? Will they lose the fire in their belly? Will they no longer approach each new season with unwarranted optimism? Will their aspirations become expectations? I certainly hope not.
The Cub fan has a beginner’s mind, open and free of expectation. A Cub’s fan has the capacity to see the world anew every single year. They suffer, maybe more than most fans, but they are not jaded by disappointment. The Cub fan holds their attachment to outcome lightly. Their love of the game and their team is not dependent on postseason standings. How could it be?
It will take time for my psyche to integrate this new reality – that my Someday team has arrived. But maybe it doesn’t need to. Because being a Cub’s fan is a way of perceiving the world; a way of rooting on the underdog; a way of loving something in spite of its capacity to disappoint over and over. The Cubs I love are World Series Champions – and they are still my Someday team, regardless if Someday has arrived. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Maybe Zen master Yogi Berra would caution Cubs’ fans, as they enter a new era of cheering on their team, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”