Our theme for October is “Why I Believe.”
The notion that sports fandoms are a kind of secular religion is nothing new. Still, for fans of the Chicago Cubs, it’s been a long while since we’ve had reason to whip ourselves into a genuine ecstatic lather. Whole generations have grown up and grown old since the Cubs last saw a World Series—to say nothing of actually winning one—and while the Cubs themselves have shown flickers of promise during that long drought (the 2015 season, for instance), our team never quite finds itself equal to the task. Or, in most cases, even remotely equal to it.
If anyone in contemporary America can sympathize with the frustration of first-century Christians awaiting the imminent return of Christ, it’s we Cubs fans.
But not this season.
This season, I—along with the thousands gathered at that great cathedral called Wrigley Field and the thousands more tuned in by radio wave and fiber optics—find myself confronted with the very real and very unusual possibility that the Cubs, for the first time in over a century, will actually do it. This season, the Cubs’ fortunes underwent a sea change, and now, at long last, baseball’s Second Coming seems nigh. This season, I believe that the Cubs will win the championship.
Because, folks? The 2016 Cubs are flippin’ fantastic.
Now, it’s not often we Cubs fans get to use the phrase “flippin’ fantastic,” or its synonyms “remarkably bodacious” and “exceptionally supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” in a sentence when describing the North Side’s lovable losers. After 107 seasons without a championship and 70 seasons without a World Series appearance, we Cubs fans have studied longer at the School of Low Expectations than any fandom in the history of the MLB. Our degrees are in Disappointment Management and Boundless Patience. We’ve pursued concentrations in Blame-Placing and Superstition-Mongering (Goats! Bartman!). We know—we know—what it is to experience heartbreak, to hit July and know that our team’s pretty much done for, to be gathered to the off-season’s motherly breast with only these words for comfort: “Next year, dearie. Next year, I promise.”
Well, next year is this year. 2016 has been the year of the Cub.
Closing out the regular season with a 103-58 record, the Cubs entered the postseason not just with the best record in the National League but with the best record in all of baseball. Strong at the mound (what with the trifecta of John Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and the NL’s reigning Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta) and strong at the plate, the Cubs have proven themselves to be a terrifically consistent team. They’re also downright entertaining to watch. See Anthony Rizzo’s gymnastics when fielding foul balls. See the so-called “Bryant Game,” in which Kris Bryant—who won Rookie of the Year for his 2015 major league debut—went 5-for-5 at the plate, hitting two doubles and three home runs in an 11-8 Cubs victory over the Reds.
Or, for a more recent example, see Miguel Montero’s game-winning grand slam Saturday night against the Dodgers:
Which was followed immediately by a Dexter Fowler solo home run:
Baseball does not get more exciting than this. Cubs baseball certainly hasn’t been this exciting in a long while, nor the Cubs themselves this good. With the series split and the Cubs heading into Game Three of the National League Championship on Tuesday, I do not doubt for a moment—I cannot doubt—that there’s a pennant in our future. And beyond that? A Commissioner’s Trophy.
So join the faithful. Fly the W. It’s a rare season when we Cubs fans have reason to celebrate, when we have the opportunity to belt out the credo of our faith with such gusto and with such regularity.
Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go!
Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!
Ben DeVries (’15) graduated with degrees in literature and writing. He and his wife Jes, a fellow Calvin grad, live in Champaign, Illinois, where Ben is looking to add some letters behind his name. On the academic off-seasons, he reads fantasy and works as a glorified “go-fer” at the Champaign Park District. He’s been known to make a mean deep-dish pizza.