It was early September in the year of Our Lord, 1969. An American had just walked on the moon and the Chicago Cubs had led the National League virtually since opening day. There had been a summer-long party in the Windy City. The slide began in mid-August and never stopped until the Cubs relinquished first place to the New York Mets, who went on a tear in September to something like a 25-3 record.
The day the Cubs slipped into second place I remember my grandfather coming through the kitchen door, his face flush with dejection. His voice fairly trembled with the bitterness of unfulfilled dreams as he spoke the words I’ve never forgotten: “THEY WOULDN’T BE THE CUBS IF THEY DIDN’T BREAK YOUR HEART.”
Saturday the Cubs clinched their first playoff berth since 2008 by virtue of the team behind them losing. The players and the fans celebrated heartily, the fact they’d just lost a game to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team they will face next week in a one-game playoff. The winner goes on to face St. Louis, the loser packs his bags and heads home until spring training.
As most of you know, Chicago’s 5-year rebuilding plan is in its 107th year. They haven’t been in a World Series since 1945, a year when most teams still had their best players fighting World War II. There is not another athletic team, amateur or professional, who is on the same planet as far as futility. I am convinced the Cubs will never win another championship, at least in my lifetime. It’s one of those inexplicable phenomena like the blue whale, the largest mammal on earth, reaching lengths in excess of 70 feet, has a windpipe approximately the circumference of a half dollar…. that’s just the way it is.
I enjoy watching my professional hometown sports teams, but I don’t get too involved in the euphoric highs and cavernous lows of hardcore fans. I save my unbridled and unabashed enthusiasm for my grandchildrens’ teams. Win or lose, they are winners to me.
Bring on October: Cubs ready to handle the playoff pressure
As the Cubs popped champagne bottles and crushed beer cans, Jason Motte looked at Kyle Schwarber and said: “This is way better than college!”
The mosh pits formed outside the home dugout after Saturday afternoon’s 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field. The Cubs had already clinched their playoff spot before the game – thanks to the San Francisco Giants losing on Friday night on the West Coast – but there was no way this group would turn down the chance to party.
Playoff-bound Chicago Cubs ready for 1st trip since 2008
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was watching the movie “Jersey Boys,” doing all he could not to check his iPad Friday night until about the final scene.
He saw that San Francisco was losing to Oakland in the ninth. When the Athletics closed out the victory, it clinched it for the Cubs. Chicago was headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.