I spent much of the morning reading and answering e mails and Facebook posts about the Chicago Cubs losing to the New York Mets last night and now being down two games to zero in the National League Championship Series. I politely answered all the comments, and posted a semi-somber article from the Chicago Tribune written after last night’s loss and added the comment that the Cubs may be down, but they’re not out.
Why did I say that? Because I believe.
Real Cubs fans believe. They believe in things that few others do. They believe with an intensity and passion that is unmatched in sports, unmatched in almost every form of human existance except maybe doomed political campaigns. They believe no matter what the rest of the world has to say. They sometimes don’t know why, but they still believe.
I started believing at a very young age. My father believed, my grandfather believed, and they passed believing in the Cubs to me through either DNA or magic, I’m still not sure which. I went to my first Cubs game in 1963, and I already believed. I spent many days at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field watching Cubs teams that ranged from bad to truly awful in my youth, but I believed. I’ve probably been to 200 Cubs games in my lifetime, and every time I’ve passed through the turnstyles at Wrigley Field, I believed.
In 1969, the Cubs were on fire, only to collapse and lose the division to the Mets. But Cubs fans believed, at least until the back cat crossed Ron Santo’s path at Shea Stadium. Then we believed in the evil of black cats.
When the 1984 Cubs played the San Diego Padres, advancing to the potseason for the first time since 1945, Cubs fans believed. Until the Padres beat the Cubs 3 games to 2 to advance to the World Series.
In 1989, “The Boys of Zimmer” took the Cubs back to the postesason, only to lose to the San Fransisco Giants, but Cubs fans still believed.
In 2003, Cubs fans really believed. They believed the Cubs could take the (then) Florida Marlins and go to the World Series. But then the whole Steve Bartman thing happened, and Cubs fans believed it was that poor schumck’s fault that the team lost game 6 of the NLCS and lost the series the next day. Despite what some saw as sabotage, Cubs fans still believed.
That may have been the year that I learned to believe in what I could see with my own two (slightly flawed) eyes. I was in Miami for the Cubs/Marlins games on press credentials, and I stood at the end of the tunnel as the Cubs came off the field after a stunning 4-0 loss to the Marlins in game 5 of that series. Even I could see that the Cubs had been beaten, not just in that game, but in their heads. They had lost their own belief that they could win that series. I could see it in the way they walked, in their eyes, and at that moment, I believed the Cubs were doomed. Real Cubs fans continued to believe, though, and blamed the losses in games 6 and 7 not on the Cubs losing the Eye Of The Tiger, but on a guy from Northbrook who did what any fan would do, reach for a foul ball that was headed right towards them.
When the Cubs got into the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates this year, Cubs fans believed.
When the Cubs beat the Pirates in that game, Cubs fans believed. And they believed so much that many of us unearthed this clip of the late Harry Caray from the last game of the 1991 season and treated it like it was some kind of Nostradamus prediction.
When the Cubs stunned much of the world and beat the team with the best record in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, in this year’s NLDS, Cubs fans believed. And others started believing too, people who only knew the Cubs as the Lovable Losers of Major League Baseball. The media started to believe. There were stories about the Cubs going all the way everywhere you looked, and even the most skeptical baseball fan was beginning to believe. And it seemed that everyone who had seen the movie Back To The Future II, which predicted that the Cubs would win the 2015 World Series, believed. The Cubs themselves believed so strongly after the wins against the Cards that they published this picture.
Then the NLCS begun, with the Cubs facing their nemesis from 1969, the New York Mets, in Queens. Cubs fans believed that the Cubs could take the Mets. Much of the media believed the Cubs could take the Mets. Hell, I believed (and still do, I’m a Cubs fan after all) that the Cubs could take the Mets. But in the pregame show on TBS before game 1 of the series, Dusty Baker, the manager who led the Cubs to the brink of making the World Series in 2003, pronounced that he believed. In the New York Mets.
Yes, the Cubs are down two games to the Mets, but right now they’re warming up at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, with the giant number 14 painted on the grass behind home plate reminding them of someone who never stopped believing, “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks, and the legend of perhaps the biggest believer ever, Ron Santo, who was tortured by the black cat and the Mets back in ’69 but always believed until the day he died.
Do the Cubs players believe? Of course they do. This article in the Chicago Tribune proves that.
Do real Cubs fans believe? Absolutely. Even though 88% of the teams who were down 2-0 have gone on to lose their League Championship Series over the years, we believe. These Cubs have defied every expectation, prediction, or wildest dreams of their fans this year, why should being down two games in a best of seven series be that big of a deal?
In 16 postseason appearances before this year, the Cubs have a record of 28-55-1. And through every win, every loss, and that tie, Cubs fans believed. They believed during every scene in this video documenting every Cubs postseason series in the history of the club. Cubs fans never stopped believing. And they never will.
Cubs fans still believe and they will no matter what happens over the rest of this week They’re Cubs fans, and, first and foremost, they are built to believe.
And if the Cubs don’t make it to the Promised Land, Cubs fans will have a rough night, maybe a good cry, dust themselves off and start believing again.
In next year.