"It’s been said that in Chicago there are two seasons, winter and construction. For Cubs fans, there is only one, and it always comes next year." – Rick Talley
Tonight, I attend the first World Series game at Wrigley Field in 71 years.
I'll be sitting next to my father, who has lived his entire life without seeing the Cubs make it to the World Series, and I'll be filled with the memories of grandparents and other family members who lived through the last century but never saw a Series win.
I've written on the topic before, reflecting on the time I attended the first Cubs night game with my dad. I am fortunate to have witnessed a few historic moments at the park. Most recently, I watched in person as the Northsiders clinched their first berth as National League Champions since 1945, making tonight a possibility for my dad— his decade-plus of season tickets has led to this point, and I am proud to share in the experience. Actually, pride is just one of many internal emotions; others include excitement, relief, and maybe even some trepidation.
Lovable losers? No more. Next year is here.
I'm unsure how often this will occur in future years, what with the youth in the ballclub and the talent from the players on up to management. But I will revel in the Wrigleyville atmosphere, no matter what the national coverage may say about the team, its fans, the outrageous fees around the park, and of course any bandwagon jumping involved.
See, no matter what the team, no matter what the city, there's something in passing down traditions, in grooming young sports fans, that connects friends and family. And in just seven short years, my oldest son has grown into a sports fan just like the younger version of his dad. He's able to rattle off names and numbers and enjoys the excitement of this season's ups and downs and all the TV coverage. He is too young to have paid his dues in watching gut-wrenchingly horrible teams struggle through Chicago summers. He never met his great-grandfather who eventually referred to the Cubs, simply, as the Pinheads. The Flubs was apparently too kind.
Obviously my son never witnessed the disappointment of '84, '89, or the heartbreaking crash of 2003. But when I put my arm around him and he snuggled in close on the couch to watch game one of the 2016 World Series, I think he could sense the mix of nostalgia and disbelief and hope stirring there under my fitted wool hat. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a lump in my throat.
This is what unites family. This is the stuff of future recollection. These are the moments that stand out while recounting household memories. It's more than just a game, it's a chance to celebrate with friends, a time to highfive strangers, and an opportunity to share in the reverie with family.
And if that only happens as a rare occurrence, a once in a lifetime event, at least we can be thankful that it happened under a Cubbie-blue moon.