I have no fear of crazy, delirious joy
I’m writing this just hours before Game #1 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Cubs. It’s possible by the time you read this, the Cubs will have lost a game, perhaps two, or even been eliminated entirely from the post-season. If that’s the case, please remember that jinxes aren’t real. In other words, it wasn’t my fault.
I recently found the scorecard from the first Cubs game I ever saw in person, on July 29, 1968. Since that day, my relationship with the team, with the Cubs “brand,” has crystallized nine innings at a time over 7,700 often painful games.
1969. 1984. 2003. 2007. 2008. I won’t get into detail. Better writers than I have chronicled all the horrors. Suffice to say, you can build up a lot of scar tissue over 7,700 games.
But I have loved the Cubs through them all, like so many others across Chicago and around the world. In the parlance of the job I do every day, I’m a brand fanatic, who, like my fellow fanatics, fell in love with a brand that just happened to be legendary for its ineptitude. A fount of tragicomedy. A punchline. Hardly the recipe you’d normally follow for success in the marketplace.
It’s impossible to look at the current team and not see the imminent end of our shared pain, if not this year then one year soon. The players in blue pinstripes are just too good, the management too smart, ownership too committed for the trophy case to remain empty very much longer.
When the Cubs win, it will be glorious. At the same time, the brand will change–it has changed already–and it will be strange and disorienting to be rooting for a champion the way I have always rooted for the Cubs. The legion of brand fanatics will change too and those of us stained by so many years of disappointment will find ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with people who don’t know what it was like to see that ground ball roll through Leon Durham’s legs or watch Ted Lilly slam his mitt to the mound in disgust in Phoenix.
It will all be worth it.
So, Cubs, bring on a title. Lift a World Series trophy. Wear the crown.
I can handle it.
10.07.16 The Biz