Crying in Baseball

IflytheW know, I know – every time a perennially shitty franchise wins something, half their fan base soaks the blogosphere with refreshingly acceptable dude tears. That’s part of living in 2015, and apparently so is the Chicago Cubs being good. So here I go…

If you’re reading this, you already know the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals to advance to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2003. I love the Cubs, but at 33-years-old, I consume sports differently than I did twelve years ago.

I don’t care as much as I used to. That’s not something people typically say when the team of their childhood is on the precipice of history, but it’s true. Between family, the work I get paid for, and the pursuit of work I one day hope to get paid for, I don’t have a ton of bandwidth left. I no longer throw remote controls or put holes in my wall over blown saves in June. I watch games in a strategically placed mirror that allows me to see the television from the kitchen while making macaroni and cheese for my two young boys.

It’s harder to get my attention now than it was in 2003, but easier to hold once you have it.

The excitement of the 2003 Cubs wasn’t just a product of the history they were chasing. It seemed like the beginning of a decade of relevance, if not dominance. Kerry Wood was 26. Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano were 22. I was 21. Endless possibility. Such is youth.

Then Game 6. A memorable foul ball caused the good people of Chicago to try and ruin a young man’s life, the shortstop choked, and it was over. The game, the series, and thanks to a couple really expensive elbows that refused to cooperate, the future.

Now we’re finally back. This version of the Cubs is even younger. This version of me is not, but the older me knows how precious these moments are. There are 21-year-old college students packed into the same bar where my friends and I were glued to the NLDS twelve years ago. They’re drinking, high-fiving, and thinking, “we’re going to be great for the next ten years!”

I’m not looking ahead. I’m looking to my left at a three-year-old who knows the words to Go Cubs Go. I’m looking to my right at a one-year-old who doesn’t have a clue what baseball is, but claps enthusiastically when he sees other people clapping.

That was me and my rowdy crew when the Cubs recorded the final out on Tuesday – clapping, singing, and shedding a couple refreshingly acceptable dude tears.

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