These are strange times for the Chicago Cubs fan. Frankly, we don't know what to do with ourselves. We look at the baseball standings in our newspapers or on our computer screens, and we scratch out heads in wonder and confusion. What is this we see before us? The Cubs in first place? And widening their lead? We looked to the north last week, as the North Siders, losing momentum and with the Milwaukee Brewers breathing down the neck of our beloved, slogged their way to the Brewers' home park for a crucial (apocalyptic?) four-game series against their newest nemesis, including two games against Milwaukee's best pitchers, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. We closed our eyes and grimaced as if we were waiting for the first thwack of our father's belt, prepared for the worst. When we opened our eyes, the Cubs had taken four straight from Milwaukee on their own turf and seemingly changed the complexion of the divisional race.
We have been here before, of course. In 1969, 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, and many other years when the Cubs had a pulse entering the dog days of summer, only to peter out in one fashion or another for one reason or another. We still gird ourselves for the inevitable departure of the ground below our favorite team, for the proverbial curse to emerge, for God to be reminded of the developing situation by Lake Michigan and to take appropriate action. As the eternal archenemy of the Cub, the Cardinal, heads toward Wrigley Field for yet another crucial series, we wait in fear and dread for the cock-up, the injury, the quirky moment that will collapse this growing house of cards (not Cards) and crush our hopes yet again. We look at the calendar, fully aware of the significance of this year more than any other, and we pray to whomever will listen to let our team, just this once, Do It.
The Cubs are off today; there are 47 games left in their schedule. They could hold on to make the playoffs ... or not. They could make their first World Series in 63 years ... or not. They could reach the promised land for the first time in a century ... or not. No one, of course, knows the outcome, even if many of us think we know. ("This is it, this is our time!" "They'll find a way to blow it - they always find a way to blow it.") All Cubs fans can do at this point is sit back and try to enjoy the ride. That is, when we're not turning away from the TV screen or trying to find our lucky cap, lest we cost Chicago the pennant.
Yeah, it is kind of easier when they're 20 games out of first place at this point in the season - you know, like they usually are.