I admit it. On the night the Chicago Cubs won the National League Central Division, tears came to my eyes more than once. For only the second time in my life, I would get to root for my beloved team in the postseason. It was the beginning of a dream come true. I watched the players spraying champagne, hootin' and hollerin', and talking about eleven more wins. I heard them answer all the easy questions that follow a win. I should have known better. I did know better.
The Cubs 2007 postseason appearance was brief. They were a three-game wonder. In 2003, Steve Bartman took the blame for the end of their run. So who gets the blame this year? Well, let's see. The pitching staff that couldn't throw strikes when they needed to. The offense that ended the NLDS with a .194 average. There were nine runners left on base by the Cubs in Game 3 as they lost 5-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. They hit into four double plays in the loss that left them swept. There were no clutch performances. For years Cubs fans have been asking the front office to spend some money on personnel, to keep up with the Joneses -- I mean the Yankees. So this year we got some big-bucks players. And what did they do in the three games that mattered most? Not much. We saw Lilly giving up homers and hits and walks. We saw Soriano striking out -- a lot. Not even D. Lee could save this sorry scene. Not even Sweet Lou.
After I wrote my first blog about my life as a Cubs fan, my dad emailed me to correct two items. First, he reminded me that I misspelled pennant because, of course, as a Cubs fan I haven't had much practice in writing the word. He also reminded me that I am not a third-generation, but a fourth-generation Cubs fan. This is quite a legacy. My great grandfather, Giuseppe Ciacioppo, was a rabid Cubs fan, and, my dad writes, "was alive when the team last won the World Series, and according to legend was at a World Series game, standing in the pastoral outfield." Lucky Giuseppe. We're all lucky that Wrigley Field still stands after all the subsequent losing that has taken place there. We have to be careful that the Cubs aren't sold to someone who doesn't understand that we don't need a nicer stadium or a move to Texas or somewhere else. We just need eleven more wins.
My newborn daughter is named Josephine, after my maternal grandmother who was a big sports fan, too. But her name clearly has more history than just that. My father's name is Joseph, and for those of you who aren't paesans, Giuseppe is Joseph in Italian. She's a legacy, too -- and, I might add, a fifth-generation Cubs fan. My dad had suggested that maybe the Cubs were meant to win it all this year -- for how else could they win their division with an 85 and 77 record? But maybe the gods have made us all wait so that Josephine would be old enough to understand and celebrate such a feat with us. Or maybe ninety-nine years just isn't long enough and we need to wait that perfect 100 years for our next World Series. You see, I am already thinking about next year. As a Cubs fan, I have to believe in next year. So I do.