27 October 2005
What it feels like to be a Cubs fan tonight
Because, you know, it's all about me...
I'm actually happy that this is over. What can I do besides look to the south and tip my cap? The White Sox had an incredible season, and were absolutely dominant during the post-season. They will be talking about this team's performance for a long time, as well they should. Going back to the last five games of the regular season, the Sox were 16-1 in their last seventeen games.
Unbelievable. They deserved to win. Their fans never even had time to get nervous about them not winning. They were never in danger of being eliminated. Only one word describes it: dominant.
And I'm happy for people I know that are as passionate about the Sox as I am about the Cubs. I am thinking about a few people who I worked with at one time or another who were die hard Sox fans, that I have lost touch with through the years. I'm thinking about my cousin, another big fan, who's wife gave birth to their first child, a son, just after this season started. I hope that he was watching the end of the game tonight with his baby boy sitting on his lap. I am thinking of everyone who waited years and years to see this day come, but didn't live to see it, and the folks they left behind, who have reason to be just a little more happy now than the rest of the fans do.
OK, so the sappy stuff (which was sincere) is out of the way. I'm glad that it's over. I've eaten my heart out so many times in the last two weeks-just ripped open my chest, snatched it out, and snarfed it down. Then wait an hour or so for it to regenerate, and do it all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was not supposed to be like this.
Quick history lesson: since I have been alive, the Cubs and the Sox have been in the playoffs an equal amount of times (four). The results for each, before this year, have been eerily similar, sort of a "can you top this." To wit:
1983: Sox win the AL West, win the first game of the American League Championship Series against Baltimore, then lose three straight. Can you top this?
1984: Cubs win the NL East, win the first two games of the NLCS, then lose three straight to San Diego.
Verdict: Cubs top Sox, by one game.
1989: Cubs win NL East, first trip to the playoffs since the league championship series expands to seven games. Lose NLCS to San Francisco, 4-1. Can you top this?
1993: Sox win AL West, first trip to playoffs since league series expands to seven games. Lose ALCS to Toronto, 4-2.
Verdict: Sox top Cubs, by one game.
1998: Cubs win NL Wild Card, first playoff appearance since playoffs expanded to four teams per league. Lose first round series to Atlanta, 3-0. Top this?
2000: Sox win AL Central, first playoff appearance since expanded playoffs. Lose first round series to Seattle, 3-0.
Verdict: A wash, both teams swept, though Sox did win division while Cubs got in as Wild Card.
2003: Cubs win NL Central. Win first playoff series in my lifetime over Atlanta, 3-2. Take 3-1 lead over Florida before losing last three games, and series, 4-3. Team five outs away from going to World Series before it all goes horribly wrong. Can the Sox top this?
2005: Well, we all know what happened here.
I expected to write "Sox win division, win first playoff series in my lifetime, win ALCS to become first Chicago team to make WS in my lifetime, lose WS. Making the WS topped the Cubs playoff experience of 2003."
But the Sox had to go and win it. The unspoken Holy Grail in Chicago baseball was this question: which team would win a World Series first? Coming into this season, the teams had combined to go championship-less for 185 years.
185 years. That's why it was unspoken.
I heard a Sox fan on the radio say this today: "I don't know what will be sweeter-seeing the Sox win the World Series, or knowing that they did it before the Cubs."
He's right, as much as I hate to admit it. Prior to this season, every time the Sox were eliminated, their fans breathed a little sigh of relief when the Cubs were eliminated as well. And every time the Cubs fell short, their fans rested a little easier knowing that the Sox came up short as well.
And now that is over. The Sox made it there first. It's like landing on the moon, getting out of the capsule, and seeing Neil Armstrong there with a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" cake.
The sun will come up tomorrow. I was not hoping that the Sox were going to lose the World Series, nor was I hoping they would win. I was just trying to ignore it. When I was downtown today on my way to school, I just kept telling myself the same thing: I just want it to be over. Let 'em win, and let's get on with our lives. When the Cubs finally do win a World Series, I can promise you that the last thing on my mind will be the White Sox.
I need to deal with my envy. It's going to take a long time. I can't believe that a Chicago baseball team has won a World Series. And I REALLY can't believe that the team that finally won a World Series was not the Cubs. I want what every Sox fan has tonight, the right to say "At least I was alive to see it." Man, do I want it. I can't believe I have to wait God knows how long to get it. I was on the train home tonight, when the game was about ninety minutes old, thinking how different I would be acting if it were the Cubs one game away from winning it all.
I have already determined what is going on here, why this happened. Baseball, in it's infinite wisdom, is taking care of its longest-suffering fans. But in a cruel twist of irony, they have decided to do it in reverse order. Again, to wit:
2004: Boston Red Sox end 86 year championship drought, win first title since 1918
2005: Chicago White Sox end 88 year drought, win first title since 1917
Those are (um, well, WERE) the third and second longest winless streaks in the game.
(YOU KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING)
2006: Chicago Cubs end longest championship drought in history, 98 years, win first World Series since 1908.
How else am I supposed to get to sleep tonight?
By the way, even though the Sox were first to win a World Series, I don't think the "can you top this" game is over yet. There's one last scenario where I think the Cubs can top the White Sox. I won't say what it is, because it's out there. Way out there. But it could happen. I'll leave you with one hint: