As opening day rears its beautiful, nacho-cheese-stained, rally-cap wearing head, Cubs fans all over the country – nay, planet – will finally say “this is the year” and mean it. As a diehard Chicagoan and baseball fan, these two phenomena join together in the beautiful mess that is the Chicago Cubs. And while I lived outside of the country for their most miserable years, being part of their come-up has been one of the highlights of my young sporting life.
At my first game, the Cubs won in a walk-off grand slam in the tenth inning. Did I think I was the good luck charm that would most effectively combat the curse of the billy goat?
Absolutely. Was I a bogus middle-schooler who did not understand the rules of baseball beyond Wii Sports? You bet. That was 2008, a different world, where my side part was aggressive and the trials of the Chicago Cubs had not yet reached their peak. It was a brief blip in their century-long losing streak and part of their 2008 playoffs bid that was ultimately unfruitful and equally as cutting to Cubs fans.
In 2011, my family got our hands on a share of season tickets. It was a miserable state of affairs, featuring back-to-back 100+ loss seasons. We literally couldn’t give the tickets away. Nevertheless, I dutifully supported the emerging Starlin Castro and waited for a winning game. That season, my winning percentage was disastrously higher than the Cubs’ own. This only further proved my theory that I was indeed the Cubs’ lucky charm, and as soon as one of the Ricketts found out I would be paid to attend every single game.
Then, we got Theo. Theo Epstein and his Moneyball tactics quite literally changed the game for the Chicago Cubs. He revitalized the Cubs’ farm system with shrewd trades, like Jake Arrieta, and sharp draft choices, like the dreamy, blue-eyed Kris Bryant. We found our big hitters in Anthony Rizzo, the aforementioned dreamy Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. We “won the offseason” with our free agent acquisitions of Jon Lester, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist – rising as well as veritable stars whose notable interest in playing for the Cubs seems to signal that good things would be happening in Chicago. These no-longer-free agents haven’t shied away from commitment, either, making up to eight-year deals to stay in Chicago, ensuring the Cubs won’t just be flirting with a World Series win, but instead intend to put a very large, diamond-encrusted ring on it (along with the Commissioner’s trophy, too).
The other harbinger of the Cubs’ future glory is the acquisition of Joe Maddon as manager. Not only is Joe Maddon an empowering tour de force (he was recently quoted saying “If you think you look hot, you wear it,” regarding the Cubs’ 2016 dress code), but his managerial innovation seems to be well in tune with the energy of his players, as well as the Moneyball tactics of the front office. Under the leadership of such an adroit manager, Cubs fans are predicting (with fingers crossed) that the W’s will naturally follow.
Should the energy from last postseason continue, the Chicago Cubs will emerge as likely candidates for a World Series win. It will be a historic, 107 years in the making win and, hopefully, I’ll see ya in Wrigleyville this October to celebrate.