A lot of people ask me why I’m a Cubs fan. Having never lived in Chicago (or even in the Midwest, save for a month in Iowa one summer) or have any ties to Chicago, it does raise a few questions. As I’ve thought about it, I realized that the psyche of a Cubs fan perfectly aligns with my own personality — loyal, passionate, a bit obsessive at times, optimistic and hopeful.
I’ve been a sports fan since I was very young, particularly of baseball, and always wanted to participate in sports, despite not being the most gifted athlete. Most people become fans of a particular sports team because they live in the city where the team is based, or have parents who grew up fans of such a team and want to indoctrinate their kids in the fandom of that team. Not me. I grew up in LA, but was never loyal to the Dodgers or Angels, despite going to games every now and then.
It was the spring of 1986. I was seven years old my older brother started playing in a local tee ball league, so of course my twin sister and I wanted to play too. We were able to choose the team we played on. My brother and sister chose the Angels. I had recently been to the zoo and loved seeing the bear cubs. My choice was obvious.
In the tee ball league’s World Series, my Cubs ended up playing the Angels. My parents were running back and forth from the Cubs’ bleachers on one side of the diamond to the Angels’ on the other, their loyalties divided. Of course, the Cubs won the World Series.
It was during that spring and summer that I started paying attention to what the major league Cubs were doing. I wanted to play second base, so Ryne Sandberg became my hero. Without the glorious Internet back then, I could only watch them when they played the Dodgers. Other times, I would grab the sports page of the Los Angeles Times to check the box scores and recaps of the Cubs games.
Fast forward ten years. I started my first year of college at the University of Pennsylvania. As part of freshman orientation before classes started, on 9-6-96, we went to a Phillies game. They were playing the Cubs, and we had great seats just a few rows behind home plate. The Cubs won, 6-4. I was thrilled. It was my first time seeing Sandberg and Grace in person.
On August 3, 2007 I finally made my first pilgrimage to Wrigley Field. Carlos Zambrano gave up only 1 run in 5 innings despite 7 walks, but unfortunately Ryan Dempster, as the closer, lost the 2-2 tie in the top of the 9th and the Cubs lost 6-2. Disappointment was tempered by the feeling of thankfulness that I was finally at historic Wrigley. And the Cubs had just overtaken Milwaukee for first place in the division the day before!
I finally witnessed my first win at Wrigley on July 12, 2008: Rich Harden’s first start as a Cub. It was looking to be a nice easy win, with the Cubs up 7-2 going into the 9th inning. But that was the infamous day that Cubs rockstar Carlos Marmol imploded and gave up 5 unearned runs in the top of the 9th to let the Giants tie the game. Luckily, Reed Johnson singled in Mark DeRosa in the bottom of the 11th for the 8-7 win, and the crowd (including myself) went insane. I finally had the chance to sing “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley. Words can’t describe it.
Being a Scorpio, my nature for being 100% devoted when I am passionate about something does not allow me to be any other way about the Cubs. Year in, year out… highs and lows. Lots of lows. I cried for days after the Cubs lost the 2003 NLCS to the Marlins when they were just 5 outs away from the World Series… and again when they got swept by the Diamondbacks in the 2007 NLDS… and again when they got swept by the Dodgers in the 2008 NLDS. The expectations were so high. But all those highs along the way keep the hope alive. And when the Cubs finally do win the World Series, all the excitement and anticipation and disappointment and stress and joy and pain and smiles and hugs and tears will have been worth it.