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Missing Baseball

With nothing else to do, but sit around waiting for the coronavirus to run its course and life getting back to normal, and Easter is not going to be that day, I watched a replay of the Cubs 2016 World Series game seven win, followed by a documentary called, Joy in Wrigleyville, on the MLB Network yesterday.

Watching these two programs brought up a crazy range of emotions, memories, and thoughts on the Cubs, and baseball, but also on what it means to be a Chicago sports fan. If you aren't any of these, then you can stop reading this because you will not possibly understand what follows.

As I watched game seven, I obviously know how it will end, and yet I was still nervous and pissed when Cleveland tied the game in the eighth inning. Shades of every other Cubs failure came easily back to my mind and I just waited for the final shoe to drop on my dream. That is the number one trait of all Chicago sports fans, knowing that your team will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

When Kris Bryant scooped up that slow roller and threw it nearly over Anthony Rizzo's head to seal the win, I yelled and jumped up just like that night only four years ago. I cried all over again and felt that warm feeling of champion grow in my chest. It is still the best day of my life, sorry Linda.

The MLB Network then immediately started the documentary, Joy in Wrigleyville. This follows five families of die hard Cubs fans during the world series, while telling their story about the long love affair with the beloved and how it impacted their families over the years. As you can imagine it is emotional and both happy and sad.

We all have stories of fandom running through our lives, with many close to us having departed this world without getting to see their favorite win anything. For so many of us the world series win by the Cubs was bittersweet. While we had joy at the victory, it was tempered with sadness at the fact that someone we loved wasn't there to share in our joy.

While I enjoyed the journey of these families I found the reactions after the win the most interesting. They were saying and feeling all the things I was saying and feeling. I had no idea so many fans felt the same way as me, and worried about the same things I did. It was enlightening and a bit overwhelming.

Like me, they knew the rookie, Hernandez, was going to hit a homer to crush the Cubs and make us fans wait another 108 years. The Cubs always find a way to lose. Yet after they sealed the victory, many of the fans said the same thing, "I'm going to wait until I see it in the Tribune to believe it happened". In typical Chicago fandom, the newspaper we trust is the newspaper that headlined, "Dewey Defeats Truman".

As fans we can't even believe what we see with our own eyes, mainly because we have seen more crazy things than any other fan base in the world. Not just in baseball either by the way. Who will ever forget the Packers getting a field goal blocked only to have it land in the surprised hands of the kicker who strolled into the endzone for the game winning touchdown against the Bears.

What it means to be a sports fan of Chicago teams is that you have to have a heart of steel, plenty of cold adult beverages, and a capacity to still believe that one day your ship will come in, despite all the signs from above screaming, "loser".

Despite all the insanity over the years, the bad teams, the mind boggling miscues, and the head scratching decisions, I realized just how much I miss watching baseball. Let's all work together to get this vicious virus under control so we can start playing baseball once again. We need it.

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