Next Year is Now

259c7a79-6d24-4e09-94ef-6e39d135eb77In February 1984, my dad put an announcement in the local paper: “Attention, world. A Cubs fan has been born.”

Growing up, being a Cubs fan was like being Catholic. Just as sure as there was Church on Sunday, Harry Caray was singing the stretch and Mark Grace was playing at first. Just have faith, and you will eventually be rewarded. Every so often, Dad would bring up the Cubs in 1969 or 1984. My parents were married and had a kid (me) by the time my dad finally saw the Cubs to the post-season. So when I only had to wait 7 months, I was doing pretty well by comparison.

Until now, every year has been the potential “next year.”

In September, when the magic number was zero and a playoff spot was secured, Dad decided to celebrate everything. We’ve had fried chicken and blue velvet cupcakes and my brother even tracked down a case of Old Style so we could live like we were there. Friends come over for every game and the garage was set up with “stadium seating.” People have their spots, superstitious to the end, whether they’re watching 1 inning or into extras and the wee hours of the morning.

When the Cubs clinched the pennant last weekend, I watched my brother fall to the floor in a boneless heap; lying prostrate on the floor of the garage like Father does in front of the altar at church on Good Friday. Friends came streaming into the garage with cheers and high fives to celebrate together.  Dad opened a bottle of champagne he bought during the playoff run in 1984, we literally went outside to #FlyTheW, and I held back tears watching the celebrations unfold. Congratulatory text messages from rival Cardinals fans came pouring in and my Facebook newsfeed was a hot mess of gleeful, can’t hardly believe this is really happening celebration.  Even Joe Buck, who we’d been yelling at all week to just shut up already, was silent as the team took to the field and the fans in and out of Wrigley sang our song.

Sitting next to my dad in the garage, I felt like I was in church on the highest of holy days.

So if there’s anything that my faith and my fandom have taught me it’s that anything is possible. That you always have to have faith. That someday, it will finally be next year. And win, lose, or draw, this World Series will be one to celebrate.

But hopefully it’s win. I have faith. And I love parades.


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