By Brad Spencer
All I hear these days is that it's hard to be a Cubs fan. The reality is that it's never been easy, and no one said it would be. But, right now, there's no question it's downright excruciating.
Oh, we're not crying in our Old Styles or anything. And we're not here seeking out pity, although the pity we've run across over the years has usually been borderline disingenuous. We can handle the sneers, the gibes, the scoffs. Such things can easily be ignored, just a bunch of mindless drivel from fans of winners or wagon jumpers of winners. And we're not about to jump ship in the form of another team and/or maybe a different league—although the Tigers would make a tantalizing mistress.
No, we're hopelessly devoted to the Cubs.
It's a lot like that popular—and yet a bit corny—ballad from the rock band Journey years ago, the piano driven "Faithfully." One line: I'm forever yours … faithfully.
What we're having a problem with is the unfamiliarity. The Cubs once had a magic that transcended wins and losses. Will the mystique ever return? Will the ivy on the outfield brick wall at Wrigley Field someday be replaced with a digital rendering? Will advertisements and jumbotrons pollute a once sacred shrine?
How can we not think this way? Harry is gone. Santo is gone. Steve Stone and Ryne Sandberg are still in baseball, but no longer affiliated with the Cubs. How did that happen? WGN radio will no longer be broadcasting games. The rooftops surrounding the outfield aren't for water tanks or air-conditioning units or sunbathers or Torco signs anymore. A stadium like Wrigley Field will soon be transformed into a stadium unlike Wrigley Field.
But, you know what, we're fine with all this. Nothing lasts forever. What we're concerned about most is that the wondrous aura of Cubs baseball will fade into the quiet of the night. That it will no longer be relevant. And that our faith will be challenged beyond our control.
But what we have to remember is that with faith comes hope, something Cubs fans have been living on for more than 100 years. Maybe that's what will continue to keep us from straying. Maybe the aura, the mystique, the wondrous magic of Cubs baseball has never really gone anywhere. Maybe it's as hopelessly devoted as we are, patiently waiting for its time in the sun.
There's another line in that Journey ballad that says it all for Cubs fans: I get the joy of rediscovering you.