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Sep
14
2008

What's It Like to be a Cubs Fan?

By Jack Cobra  |  Comments (2) | Hype It Up!  |   Filed Under: Cubs | Featured | Jack Cobra Archive
cubs400x290.jpgWhat’s it like to be a Cubs fan? I’ve been asked that twice in my life. Once by a former work supervisor after the 2003 playoff loss and once by Jordi a few months ago. Neither time could I come up with an answer that I felt would truly display what it was like so I sat silently. After being inspired by an ESPN.com post, I’m finally going to give it a shot.


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ACubDugout.jpgMy first memory as a Cubs fan is sitting in the apartment my parents were renting as a 5-year old and watching the Cubs give away the 1984 pennant. Actually, my first memory is a camera shot of Keith Moreland sitting in the dugout, dejected. Even as a child I could tell that loss hurt not only Moreland but the other players, as well. Something horrible happened that they cared dearly about and it was telling. For reasons I can’t explain, at that point I was hooked. I’ve never been the same.

Before I get too far into this, let me say that there are many different types of Cubs fans and I can only speak for myself. For some, being a Cubs fan means sitting in the bleachers and berating the Cardinals outfielders. For others it means sitting in the Upper Terrace Reserved keeping the book on the game. Some thinks being a Cubs fan means showing up to the games early to drink until you can't see straight. That's not me. What type of Cubs fan am I? You'll be able to figure that out for yourself in the next few minutes.

What's it like to be a Cubs fan???
 
jerome_walton_autograph.jpgIt hurts. It hurts bad. To watch the Cubs slowly fade from contention throughout a season hurts bad. This has happened more times than not while I’ve been alive and it’s never fun. Cubs fans are optimistic. We think Kevin Orie is going to be the Rookie of the Year. We think Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith are the next Mantle and Maris. We believe that Mark Prior is indestructible. We think Iowa getting into the playoffs means good things for next season. Then it happens. Slowly but surely the season starts to fade away as Cubs losses pile up quickly. In May you think the Cubs still might have a chance but by July you know it’s over….and it hurts. It hurts because you can’t stop watching. You can’t just turn off these feelings you have. You may skip the Cubs for a week or two but you know in your heart that you will fall right back into watching them on WGN every chance you get. We think Iowa getting into the playoffs means good things for next season. You’ll want to see if the next Angel Guzman/Felix Pie/Jeremy Gonzalez is going to make a splash in their September call up because next year is going to be the year. Except it isn’t. This is when it begins to feel like you are an addict that can’t give up that fix. You want to walk away because it's killing you but you can't.

It hurts. In 2003, I was sitting in a chair and began counting down the outs until the Cubs finally got to the World Series. The count moved quickly from 27 all the way down to 5 where it was abruptly stopped. I sat there with my five fingers outstretched for the next hour in pure shock as no one in the room can speak of what just happened. Outsiders haven’t been invited to this party because they wouldn’t understand and shouldn’t be allowed to understand. Have you ever had one of your dreams sit right in front of your eyes only to have it stolen away from you? I have.

redbaron.jpgIt feels joyous. Sitting in my grade school class with my Cubs "WGN" ear radio dialed in and ignoring the teacher I felt like I was breaking the law...only I knew that if I were caught I had an excuse that made every sense in the world to me. I HAD to know how the Cubs were doing. I had to hear the description of what it was like at Wrigley that day. I had to know how Rick "The Red Baron" Sutcliffe was doing. I felt like I was breaking the law but it was a law that had to be broken.

It feels joyous. You can't beat a walk off homer to win the game at Wrigley Field in the bottom of the 9th during a day game. The shadows are covering the mound by this time but as Ryne Sandberg trots from first to second base it's nothing but sunshine. It's almost as if Heaven exists on Earth and you get to see it for a brief second as the stadium is rocking, only you hear nothing because you are in a zone of your own.

It feels joyous. Now that I'm older I listen to ESPN Radio on my way into work in the morning and each time I hear Dan Davis say, Cubs 3-Cardinals 2, I can't help but smile. The best way to start the morning isn't with a good cup of coffee, it's with a Cubs victory from the night before.

harry-caray-and-steve-stone.jpgIt feels like life. Running home from 4th grade to catch the last two innings of a 2:20pm game is like no other feeling. This isn't 'running' in the sense that you have made your way home. This is 'running' in the sense that you've sprinted all the way home ignoring traffic guards, chain link fences and shrubs just to see what's happened. Harry is back in the booth after spending some time on the radio side and by now Steve Stone is telling you exactly why Paul Assenmacher is struggling to get an out.

It's emotional and it's about emotion. People ask me what I would do if the Cubs won the World Series. I don't know. I'm afraid to think about it. It's going to be hard for me when it happens. I was there with a Cardinals fan the night they won the World Series and he was very happy and I was happy for him. I don't think 'happy' could describe how I will feel. I don't think I could share that moment of my life with a crowd in a bar. It means more to me than that. I'm still not sure what I'll do when it happens and it scares me and excites me at the same time.

My Dad used to come home from work at the end of the day with Unocal 76 posters from the gas station and each poster would have the story and picture of one of the greatest Cubs games ever. I would sit down and memorize what happened back during a Cubs/Phillies slugfest or the 'Ryno Game' against the Cardinals. Those were some of the happiest days of my life. I still remember the first time my parents took our family to Wrigley Field and how it felt to walk through the gate. I remember the second time I went to Wrigley Field with my Grandfather and how I was scared to ride the El.

Some day my wife will pass away and I will be left alone on this Earth. Except I'll still have the Cubs. Everything else will be gone but the Cubs will still be there for me. I'm not sure what adjective describes that. What's it like to be this Cubs fan? It hurts, it's joyous, it's emotional and in the end....the Cubs are there for you.
 

2 Comments
Bruce Paine said

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With the club cruising along so well I knew it was only a matter of time.

Doug Betz said

Heart-rending. I'm a Cubs fan in Phillies territory. I feel your pain. My daughters--15 & 11--are learning the life of Cubs fans. Nicely written, well said.


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