I could choose to dwell on the rotten egg that is this year’s presidential election (sorry to burst your bubble but neither candidate is worth a plug nickel), but instead I wanted to talk about something that I saw this past weekend that I can’t seem to get past.
Growing up I was taught that men don’t cry. It shows weakness and that it isn’t anything that you need to see. This, I believe, doesn’t apply if you are watching Old Yeller or when you sell your favorite car. Any other time I think you can be pretty sure that you’re going to get called a sissy. So as you can imagine when I saw grown men crying on my television this past weekend I had to sit up and take notice.
It happened late Saturday night where tens of thousands stood bundled in warm jackets and lost their voices as we watched the runners streak from third base to home, and then in the ninth inning… First a strike out, then a runner on. Suddenly a hit into the infield that was gloved by the third baseman, tossed to second, (second out) and then thrown to first. As the warm leather glove squeezed that ball a collective scream erupted from every Cubs fan across the country. It was as though we had forgotten to breath and were still waiting for that swift kick in the groin that we had known only too well in our lives anytime our club got close to the World Series.
As the players ran out of the dugout to celebrate in the field, the cameras turned to the stands. It was almost as though we as Cubs fans didn’t quite know what to do. I saw grown men crying, strangers hugging and one elderly lady holding her arms out to keep the over-enthusiastic young man next to her from falling on her. Later, when asked how the elderly lady, who had waited since 1945 to see her team win the National League pennant, how she would be celebrating the victory, she looked deadpan and stated that she probably would just have a jeagermister. Party on old lady!
Outside the stadium, in a special area of Chicago they call Wrigleyville, thousands milled about not sure exactly how to celebrate and cheered every time someone walked by with a Cubs t-shirt on. But I kept coming back to watching those grown men cry. It made me think of the hours I spent at work, either when I was driving truck or in a sprayer, listening to Cubs games on the radio.
How I wish that my friend John was here to see this, knowing how much he enjoyed going to the games when we were younger. I thought of Harry, who taught us how to properly do the 7th inning stretch, of Jack Brickhouse, and of Ron Santo who always believed in that it was their year and hated the Mets more than anyone I’ve ever met. I thought of those men in the stands, who learned to score from their fathers, who probably were standing their wishing their Dads were still with them to appreciate what they were seeing. I thought of my friend Mary McIlrath who posted pictures of the game from her seat on the third base line. I thought of every person who lived through the highs and lows of being a Cubs fan, who believed that someday, if they believed enough, that the curse, the Bartmans and the suffering of all fans would end.
That day has come, they have captured the pennant for the first time in generations, and regardless of the outcome of the Series this group of players have given all of us who believed all these years a real lesson in faith. This is the year, the time is now, and to be honest, it isn’t really all that bad if you cry as a grown man, especially if they are tears of joy. See you next week, remember we’re all in this together.