When I was a kid I was a Pittsburgh Pirate fan and a Boston Red Sox fan. When I was 10 the Reds beat the Pirates in the National League Championship series to go to the World Series. I hated the Reds in the way a ten year old boy hates the team that broke his dream of watching his team in the Series.
The Reds went on to play the Red Sox in the epic 1975 Series. I so badly wanted the Red Sox to beat the Reds that I became a crazy Red Sox fan. My new heroes included Fisk, Yaz, Rice, Tiant, Hobson, and Lynn., I still remember waking to see the highlight of game 6 when Carlton Fisk sent the homer into the Boston night and willed it to stay fair as he hopped down the first base line. After game 7 of that series my nearly 30 years of torture began. The game had gone too late for me to stay up so the next morning I ran downstairs only to see the image of Joe Morgan on the TV with his arms raised in victory.
Of course this was not the last of my agonizing moments brought on by “my” Red Sox. Shortly after, while I was still a youth, there was Bucky Dent. As a young adult the Bill Buckner play. In 2003 as a grown man there was Aaron Boone. I still have never seen that ball land. Immediately after it left his bat I turned off the power to the TV and went to bed.
What I didn’t realize was that all of this heartbreak was giving me and I am sure others something to be a part of. I was a Red Sox fan. I was a member of a club that had shared in all of the elation and eventual disappointment that came with being a member of that club. We had a common cause.
All of that changed in 2004. You could not have found a happier person than I was when the Sox completed their historic comeback against the hated Yankees. I was also elated when they went on to beat the Cardinals and win their first series since 1918. However, something had changed. Something didn’t feel the same. We weren’t the same club anymore. People wouldn’t look at us the same way anymore. We weren’t bad luck losers. We were champions? What did that mean? It meant that we could no longer share in our pain, it was gone. We couldn’t rally around or bad luck or should have beens. They went on to win again in 2007 and 2013. I proudly display photos from each of those series in my home. I am happy that they are my team but it doesn’t feel the same. I don’t have the same feeling anymore. Do I want them to not have won those series? Of course not! Do I want to feel the same way again? Of course I do!
So here is my warning to Cubs fans. I want the Cubs to win, i really do. I would like to see a team that hasn’t won since 1908 finally do it. However, cubs fans if they do you won’t feel the same ever again. What you may or may not realize is that the Goat and Bartman and all the other bad breaks over the last 107 years have brought you together. They have given you something to collectively stand behind and root for. It will feel good, it will be an amazing celebration. Then it won’t feel the same. Winning, oddly, can change everything. Go Cubs!