It’s a reasonable question. Well, in 1984 when I was a 7-year-old little leaguer, the Angels were bad, the Dodgers were the team for almost everyone else I knew, and the Padres were my best friend’s team. So when cable blessed us with baseball from the exotic lands of Atlanta and Chicago, I chose the Cubs because 1) Atlanta was still awful back then and 2) the Cubs were doing well, led by 2nd baseman Ryne Sandberg, my favorite player at the time. Harry Caray, with his slurred malapropisms and windshield-sized glasses called all the games on TV, Van Halen’s “Jump” was the bumper music, and everything was awesome. Or so I thought.
It was an early lesson in Wrigley heartbreak: Chicago made it to the league championships in 1984, on the verge of their first World Series appearance since 1945—but glory was snatched from them by the Padres, my best friend’s team. Those Padres went on to get stomped by the Detroit Tigers (my brother’s team) in the World Series, and I eventually married into a Padres family and still love to hear San Diego games on the radio (as hopeless as they may be). Whenever the Cubs made the post-season, though—1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015—I reverted to my childhood Cub-fan self. I grumbled and cringed when they played and shrugged when they inevitably lost.
That hasn’t happened in 2016 yet. Oh, I got frustrated when the Cubs couldn’t put away the Giants right away, and seethed when Los Angeles didn’t go quietly either—but I ugly-cried like a child when Chicago beat the Dodgers last night to finally, finally advance to the Series. I also won’t stop being a nervous wreck until the Cubs win their four series games to claim their first title since 1908. It’s a silly thing to get wrapped up in when so much is wrong with the world, but I ask you: 2016 has been a truly wretched year—it giveth Trump and taketh away Bowie and Prince—so a Cubs series victory would do a lot to balance things out.
Anyway, that’s the short version. The rest of it—with players like Mark Grace, Andre Dawson, Kerry Wood, Moises Alou; with Ryno going to the Hall of Fame in 2005; with all my own lifetime-.222-hitting personal baseball frustrations and failures—is too much to get into here. All I want this year is a Cubs series win over Cleveland—a good team with their equivalent baseball pain hidden beneath a horribly racist logo—and in 7 games so the last one can happen on my 40th birthday.
This is a little hint of why someone from deep within Angel country is a Cub fan. There are many, many more deserving Cub fans out there. This man, for example (go fund him!). When this season is done, I’ll go back to listening to (and griping about) the Padres along with my wife, but it would be nice to see the Cubs emulate Boston (who killed their long Series drought with three titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013). But maybe without the melodrama this time.
Photo by Jaime Squire/Getty Images via the WSJ