I should have seen the signs coming: the cascade of injuries, the drop in morale, the constant losing streaks. Yet still, when the Chicago Cubs didn’t make the postseason for the first time in four years, it broke my heart.
Ever since I watched my first game at the age of five, I’ve worshipped the Cubs. When I was younger, my immediate family members weren’t really interested in baseball. But over time, my love for the game and the Cubbies turned them into die-hard fans. The Cubs were always bad; I didn’t see the Cubs win a game in person until I was 13. But we didn’t care.
When I was in high school, the Cubs went from perennial losers to a championship contender. Watching the playoffs become a major family event. Our group chat with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins would blow up any time there was a home run, a key strikeout, an incredible catch. I was in my senior year the night the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, watching the game with my extended family and friends, all of our eyes glued to the screen. When the power briefly went out, we hastily sprinted out to my 2008 Toyota Highlander and crowded around to listen live on the radio.
This community I had in my family and friends, born out of love for the game, meant everything to me. When I was packing up in preparation for a move across the country for college, the only thing keeping me from being entirely terrified was the knowledge that my aunt, uncle and grandma live in Irvine – and that they had MLB.TV.
During the falls of my freshman and sophomore years, their apartment and premium sports subscription was a solace for me. When I got lonely or overwhelmed by the pressures of school, it was a comfort to hear others screaming at Javier Baez for swinging at a wild pitch, then a minute later hear them cheer as he smacked a ball over the fence.
Now as a junior, I’m much more comfortable at Chapman. However, I was still looking forward to my bi-weekly trips to Irvine to ward off any homesickness. After a lifetime of losing seasons, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the Cubs finished in third place in their division this year and honestly, I wasn’t. But I was still disappointed. I had gotten so used to my family gathering together to watch the postseason, everyone anxiously hoping the relief pitching could hold on to the lead. As panic-inducing as Cubs games can be, I love being able to share them with my family.
The day after they were eliminated from the playoffs, I got a text from my aunt telling me to come over for lasagna. I came over and surely enough lasagna I did eat, but as I left I remarked that it was too bad we weren’t able to watch the game. She agreed, but also pointed out the next few weeks would be far less stressful without us praying that they’d win. She’s got a good point, but I’m hoping for the stress again next year.