I don't remember the exact moment when I fell in love with the Cubs. The same way a person doesn't remember learning to love their parents or learning to chew solid food. I know that logically, there must have been a time in my life when I didn't know what the Cubs were, but I don't remember that time at all. I only ever remember being a Cubs fan.
I remember the little white transistor radio my mom had that only got AM stations, that she would use to listen to Cubs games. I remember Harry Caray and Steve Stone calling the games, and I remember being sad when Harry died, but relieved that he would never have to try to pronounce "Grudzielanek" or "Samardzija" backwards.
I remember going to my first Cubs game with my grandmother, my mom, and my brother, and letting the magic of Wrigley Field wash over me. That magic still exists there, every day, every time I walk into the stands. That first view of the field sets everything right with the world. Time stops. We are all made equal. We are all there to enjoy our time watching baseball, eating snacks we otherwise wouldn't allow ourselves, and cheering for our boys in pinstripes.
I remember my first Cubs crush on Shawon Dunston, soon to be followed by Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and after a year of not allowing myself to like him because he had been with the Marlins who beat us the year before, Derrick Lee. I remember feeling a special bond with Keith Moreland because of the similarity of our last names, even though we've never met.
I remember getting excited in 1984, in 2003, in 2008, and in 2015, when it looked like we might finally win it all. I remember thinking that we were the best, no matter how many errors we made, how few runs we scored, or how the stats stacked up against us. I remember being devastated each time when what looked so easy for everyone else turned out to be so hard for us.
But mostly, I remember the love. I've been asked many times what the big deal is about the Cubs. They don't put on the offensive show that a lot of American League teams do, with fireworks going off for every home run. Wrigley is an old stadium, falling apart in places, that is missing the state of the art food courts and LED banners that tell us when to stand up and make noise. "It's just a baseball team." Except it's not. It is hope. It is a dream. It is a light that lets us know that no matter what happens today, there will be a tomorrow. There will be another chance. From Harry Caray to Pat Hughes, the fans are always brought into the games, welcomed as if each and every moment of each and every game could be the turning point that we've all been waiting for for 108 years. We lose, and we brush ourselves off and come back and play again. It has to take a lot of love for players like Kerry Wood and Greg Maddux to want nothing more than to come back to the Cubs to finish their careers, for men like Ernie Banks to dedicate themselves to the team and the organization long after retirement. It has to take a lot of heart to still show up to the ballpark and to still play as hard as you can every game for over a century without getting the one thing millions of people are hoping, dreaming, willing into existence - a World Series title. Because if we have the title, then maybe other people will finally listen when we say the Cubs are the best team in baseball. They always have been.
For my grandmother who lived her whole life without seeing the Cubs win it all.
For my mother who filled our house with baseball even before I knew what baseball was.
For Harry Caray who assured us that this day would come, as sure as God made little green apples, even though he's not here to see it.
For Ron Santo, who I'm sure would have had a heart attack in the booth if he had tried to call this series.
For Ernie Banks, who taught us all to be kind and gracious and to keep playing no matter what.
For Wood, Prior, DeRosa, Dawson, Lazzeri, Gossage, Sandberg, Maddux, Durham, Sutcliffe, Lee, Jenkins, Dunston, Dempster, Zambrano, Johnson, Barrett, Alou, Williams, Dean, Lindstrom, Zimmer, Wilson, Sutter, Boa, Smith, Moreland, Pappas, Brock, Ramirez, Kelly, Hornsby, Grace, Davis, Cey, and Brown who gave it their everything and never quite got there.
This one is for you. This is your win. This is your year.
I don't remember the exact moment I fell in love with this team. I know I will never love another team in the same way. I will always be grateful that I got to see them make history, even from afar. Because if the Cubs can win the World Series, what else is possible?