***UPDATE: For more information on this year's intense line-up of teams in the MLB post-season check out the following link*** http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080930&content_id=3577624&vkey=ps2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb
***For more on the Chicago cross-town rivalry in this year's post-season check out the following article put out by the Chicago Tribune today***
I've learned some of the hardest life lessons by being a Cubs fan.
People usually laugh at me when I say that, but it's true. I have spent 21 years watching, agonizing, sitting, smiling, transitioning from Pepsi to Old Style, plan hot dog to Chicago style ... I like to think I've done a lot. And, although my time as a Cubs fan is perhaps a lot shorter than most North Siders (or transplanted North Siders scattered around the country/world), I like to think I have some credibility when I go to say, "CHICAGO'S GONNA WIN TODAY!"
Today is October 1, 2008. This officially marks the first back to back playoff appearance by the Chicago Cubs franchise since the last time they won the fall classic ... 100 years ago.
Now, two Cubs managers will go down in history for taking the team to the playoff's in consecutive years -- Frank Chance (1906, 1907, and 1908) and Lou Pinella (2007, 2008).
Sweet Lou, this is where I tip my metaphorical hat to you. On behalf of all Cubs fans I would first of all like to say "Thanks." Second, "Please keep history repeating itself. Because, if you do, we're on track for the greatest lesson anybody has ever learned and I think it'd do a lot for the people of this country."
See, I'm not trying to sound corny here. I'm just being honest. I mean, let's take a moment to imagine the possibilities here.
Since the Yankees last World Series win in 2000, each year has been a surprise when it comes to who wins the ring at the end of the season. The Marlins fried the Cubs in '03. The White Sox took their first series home since the Black Sox scandal in '05. St. Louis rose to the occasion in '06. Heck, the Red Sox even won 2 in less than 4 years. So, all I'm saying is that the Cubs have it coming. And this time, they deserve greatness.
It's been said that this year's team has a swagger. I can't speak from that much experience since I only went to one home game at Wrigley Field this year (where Rich Harden, Carlos Marol, and Kerry Wood put on QUITE the pitching spectacle), but they definitely have a spring in their step. They're confident. And that, I like.
But, it's not just about winning. It's about the game. It's about what it does to people. It's about fall. It's about how there's one October. These are important things that people forget.
Baseball is America's past-time and the Cubs are their "Lovable Losers". Thanks to the Cubs I've learned how to deal with heartache. I've shed tears over games and haven't been ashamed. I've seen friends and families united even after a losing seasons. But no matter what, no matter how good or how bad the Cubs are doing, everyone comes together to celebrate them.
Due to the team's long streak of losses and historical collapses, each and every Chicagoan that calls themselves a Cubs fan has this funny sense of pride that I've never seen anyone else (not even a Red Sox fan) emulate.
It's something inside us. A flicker. A flame. It ignites us when spring training starts and stays lit long past the last days of October. In a way, it's eternal. The season may end but the spirit never leaves. And that to me is Cubs baseball.
It's a feeling. And a damn good one at that.
So, even though I can't be in Chicago just a 15 minute walk from what I consider to be the greatest spot in America (Wrigley Field) to watch my Cubbies take on the infamous Joe Torre and his Dodgers, I'll be there in spirit rooting from my couch.
Welcome to next year baseball fans, get ready for the Cubs.