The Low Point
On this day in 2008, despite having the best record in the National League, the Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs in three straight games by the Dodgers. I wrote the following piece in the Northwest Indiana Times…
It’s been a rough week for me; a week of deep, dark contemplation. You see, I’ve spent the last year of my life dedicating myself to a website about the Cubs (www.justonebadcentury.com).
It was just a lark at first; a chance to poke fun at the team that constantly breaks my heart. But somewhere along the line I actually started believing the Cubs were going to win it all this year…for the first time in my life.
Worst of all, I convinced my three sons, particularly my six-year-old Sean. He became so obsessed, by the end of the season he was making me look like a casual fan.
He named his teddy bear “Kosuke.” He slept with his Cubs hat on. He learned the batting stances of every player. He carried around their baseball cards in his pocket–arranged in order of most favorite to least favorite. He and I watched nearly every game this season. We recreated games in the backyard, and played catch at the school bus stop every morning. We were such a die-hard Cubs house that even my wife (the baseball agnostic) started caring whether or not they won or lost.
Until this past week, I thought it was a beautiful bonding experience. Now, I feel like turning myself in to DCFS.
I got the first inkling of what I had done to my boys in the Wrigley Field restroom after they lost Game 2. A young man came bounding into the restroom with youthful enthusiasm despite the horrific display we had all just witnessed to exclaim: “It’s alright, guys! We’ll win 2 in LA and bring it back home!”
I was standing next to a 70-something year old man, who leaned over and said to the youngster…”Hey Kid, how old are you?”
He replied “I’m 25.”
The old man simply sighed, looked knowingly in my sad eyes, and walked out the door. We were both thinking the same thing. “He’ll learn eventually.”
Within moments of feeling sorry for that youngster, however, I realized that my boys were going to react the same way. They were sure this was the year, and their belief was not going to be shaken by this gruesome collapse. That’s when I started feeling reeeeeeeally guilty.
The next morning Sean proved my point. He gave me a comforting hug and said “Don’t worry, Dad. It’s only two losses so far. We’ll get ‘em in LA.”
I swear I almost cried when he said that. Bridget and I met eyes, and just like the old man and I had done in the restroom the night before, we spoke to each other without speaking. We were both thinking about an incident that took place at Wrigley Field in 1996 when my oldest boy Tommy was a baby.
An older lady came up to me and cooed at the adorable baby in my arms. She asked me: “So, are you going to make him a Cubs fan too?”
“Yes I am,” I said proudly.
“That’s child abuse,” she replied, and walked away.
I didn’t think so then, but if I were put under oath today, I would have to say: “Guilty as charged, your honor.”