The hopes of ending the 100-year drought
Contrary to what it may seem at this point, I’m not talking about my lack of reviewing or blogging when I refer to a drought of 100 years. To those who know what I’m talking about when I say “100-year drought” … well, you already know what I’m talking about. I don’t have to say anything more. “100-year drought” says it all, and you already know what the conversation is going to be.
To the rest of you not in the know — who do not follow such things even casually — I am referring of course to the Chicago Cubs, who last won a World Series in 1908. This year marks the 100-year anniversary of that unthinkably-long-ago milestone. It was so long ago that, as far as I’m concerned (and probably most currently alive), it might as well have been never. (Did they actually play baseball in 1908? Certainly it was such a different sport then that the connection to baseball as it is today seems tenuous at best.) The people in Chicago, the media, everyone who cares at all about baseball — all have been mentioning it for months, even before the season began. Could this be the year? Does a 100-year anniversary spell fate?
Now the season is in the home stretch, and as I write this, the Chicago Cubs have the best record in baseball, with a team that is more promising than any team in recent memory. There’s a vibe in the air for Cub fans. There’s so much of a vibe that even I haven’t been able to deny it. Unlike last year, where the Cubs did in fact go to the playoffs (only to get swept out in the first series), this year feels like the real thing. This year I have intently watched a lot of regular-season baseball for the first time in years — probably since I was a kid.
Make no mistake. I am a Cub fan. Always have been. Always will be. I’ve discussed this before. I used to watch the Cubs when I was a kid on summer vacation and had no school and no work. I remember the 1984 season. But my dedication to watching the Cubs, and baseball in general, has always been greatly affected by one truth about baseball: The season is a marathon that goes on for far too long. You can’t watch most games. In many years, I wouldn’t watch any games unless it was late in the season or the Cubs were in the playoffs. Does that make me a fair-weather fan? I suppose. My time spent paying attention is directly proportional to the promise the team has of making the playoffs.
But come playoff time, I’m there. I watched every inning of the Cubs’ 2003 postseason. And the spectacular collapse of that postseason is still a sore spot for any Cub fan. It’s enough to make one go in with a jaundiced eye when the team shows its promise yet again. Will 2008 be another year of disappointment?
I’m hoping not. I’m fully invested this year. I’ve watched more Cubs baseball this year than in any year I can remember, and certainly any year as an adult. Which I’m sure is one reason you can blame me for being so behind on my always-promised always-tardily-delivered reviews.
The Cubs are hot. They have the stuff. They have the pitching. They have the hitting. They have the defense. They show the promise. This looks like THE year. There’s a vibe in the air. Enough of a vibe that I picked up on it way early for me — which (as a fan who simply cannot do the full-season marathon) is to say June.
If I’m watching baseball in June, that can only mean one thing for the Cubs: It’s the World Series or bust.