Cubs win — and life’s great values are affirmed!
“I want to thank anyone who’s ever put on a Cubs uniform and anyone who’s ever rooted for the Cubs. It’s been 108 years of love, support and patience waiting for a team like this to make it happen. You guys are all world champs tonight and I couldn’t be happier for you.”
— Cub’s General Manager Theo Epstein to life-long Cubs fan Bill Murray after the Cubs won a thrilling game 7 over the Cleveland Indians
To understand the impact on Cubs fans of the winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years, you have to be in touch with many elements of human emotion and experience.
Life is a journey
The older we get the better we understand and hopefully appreciate how we went about getting to where we are. Life is a series of decisions, blunders, luck and preparation. We can all look back and kick ourselves for our mistakes, bad judgments and personal failings. But maturity is about forgiving oneself for those things and being proud of the lessons they taught us and the progress towards wisdom that they teach us. In the end, we hope to find a sense of satisfaction. As poet laureate Maya Angelou said, “You did what you knew how to do – and when you knew better, you did better. Always try to do better.”
The lesson: The Cubs century-plus record of futility is well-documented. But nobody was ever accused of not trying. The journey led to finding the right leadership in Epstein; the right manager in Joe Maddon and the right blend of players. In the end, every Cubs fan will say it was all worth it – every agonizing disappointment in all of the 108 seasons.
Loyalty is a key to a life well-lived
Life is about relationships. Family, friends, co-workers and the like keep us connected give us a sense of being needed. We share and receive love by proving our undying loyalty to those we care about, especially in hard times.
The lesson: Cub fans have always measured the depth of their devotion by remaining loyal to the cause. No amount of losing or frustration could break the bond they felt with their team and each other. They all silently or outwardly pledged their loyalty to their beloved, if indeed, hapless Cubs.
You’ve gotta believe
Every person is guided by a set of beliefs. We all have them, whether it’s belief in an afterlife, or a belief that if you work hard good things will happen. Our belief system serves to keep us grounded, focused on what’s right and wrong and helps sustain us when elements in our life seem stacked against us or even hopeless.
The lesson: Cub fans were always sustained by a belief that their devotion to the cause would be rewarded. No matter how much pain they endured, salvation would come. We can easily imagine the thousands of Cubs fans feeling that their loved ones are turning cartwheels in heaven as they celebrate with them.
A sense of community and patriotism
We stave off the loneliness at the core of human experience by becoming part of things bigger and greater than ourselves. Although the many millions of Cub fans never wore a uniform or could hope to hit a major league fastball, they still feel like they’re a part of the team. This is the grand illusion of sports. Even though a Cubs player has no more of a chance of being from Chicago than anywhere else, the uniform binds them all. As Seinfeld said, “We root for laundry.”
The Lesson: Cubs players hail from Cuba to California with not a single player even from Illinois. No matter. They are “our team” and “our guys.” We share their successes and failures. Our brains put it all in a compartment and we don’t think about who they really are or how they got here.
Respect for hard work
It’s a deep American theme and we hear about “work ethic” a lot in sports. Nothing great happens without pain and “paying the price.” “Respect 90” is Maddon’s slogan that refers to players hustling at all times. The distance between bases is 90 feet and people are watching all the time and expect you to never stop hustling.
The lesson: As a kid I read a Joe DiMaggio quote. He was asked why he always plays so hard. He said, “Because every day somebody who never saw you play before is watching.”
Playing hard; rooting hard; being loyal to the cause; having unshakable beliefs; being loyal and seeing life as an ongoing journey that continually challenges and tests us are great qualities to have.
Hope always reigns supreme in sports. When I was a kid, the perennially losing Dodgers rallying cry always was, “Wait ‘til next year!” Their year eventually happened, as it just did for the Cubs.
And on that, we all cling.