Character, they say, is something you build when you lose. I’m a Cubs fan. I’ve been building character for over thirty years…with one notable exception.
My love/hate relationship with the Windy City Northsiders began when Cassidy and I were first married and living in the far-off land known as Sarpy County. While we had much in common, we had big gaps in learning how to live with each other. I was a moderate baseball fan and CC had heard of baseball. We randomly turned on WGN out of Chicago and were fascinated by the loud broadcaster with the booming voice who wore glasses with lens the size of big screen televisions.
CC and I bonded over the Cubs (and a newborn daughter) when they had their flash-in-the-pan success of the mid-Eighties, only to lose to the monochromatic San Diego Padres and their two-dimensional first baseman Steve Garvey (I’m not bitter!). The Cubs wouldn’t have any kind of real success for decades after (aside from a peak here and there). Life changed when the Ricketts bought the team, sunk real money into the dilapidated facilities, and brought in two success-makers named Theo and Joe.
In 2016, CC and I were lucky enough to go Cubs Spring Training, and we saw t-shirts that said, “Just One Before I Die,” referring to a World Series championship, something the Northsiders hadn’t won since (sigh) 1908. Walking the concreate pathways around Sloan Park in Mesa, I felt the palatable certainty that this was our year. The team made a loud noise in 2015 but fell short of the final round. From everything we saw and felt at Sloan, I could believe it we might win it all.
Our team spent most of 2016 in first place of the National League Central, but being a Cubs fan, we know nothing is certain and there’d been so much disappointment (“character building”). No fingernail was safe from chewing between April and October.
I’ll cut to the chase and, yes, the Cubs did break the 108-year curse in seven games (and extra innings!) with the seventh game possibly being the greatest game in World Series history.
As this is a writing blog, I’m guess I’m trying to say that while many writers are blessed with instant success, most of us are in this for the long haul. Like the Cubs in their World Series year, the best path to success is hard work, calling on experts to fill in the gaps, have faith in yourself and your play on the field, and build collaboration where you can, like I have with CC. Fame and fortune may not be guaranteed, but you’ll know you did your absolute best over the long season.
As for the Chicago Cubs after that magical 2016 season, well, I wish there were more pennants and trophies and such, but truthfully, I don’t care. I got my one World Series before I died.
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