I Thought It Would Be Easier
Before the season, I told friends and whoever else asked that all I expected out of this season, not necessarily wanted but expected, is that the Cubs would play meaningful games in September. I didn’t know if they’d get a playoff spot or not back in March, but I expected them to be in the running.
So here we are on September 1st, and the Cubs are certainly playing meaningful games. In fact, they might play non-meaningful games in the last week or two not because they’re out of it, but because they’ll already have a playoff spot wrapped up. I don’t think we saw that coming. So everything from here should be candy to me. I’m getting what I asked for, and should be reveling in it.
There I was having a bit of a rant on Saturday night as they coughed up a winnable game against the Dodgers, and leaving the evidence on Twitter. I had to convince myself that I was ok with last night’s loss, it was just a meltdown from what had been the most reliable reliever this season I told myself, but I didn’t actually feel it until the Giants lost at 1am or whatever it ended up being. The last five Cubs losses, I’ve basically had to be really careful I was taking it as just a loss after an incredible streak and not a sign of weakness in the floor which could collapse any minute. You don’t know those are starting when they start, only after you’ve fallen through to the level below.
I want to blame them. They were too much fun from the end of July through August. They played too well, convinced us of too much, made the fantasies just a little too real. Once you’ve got them, they’re hard to push back out of the mind. So any threat to having them torn away… well, I tend to act irrationally.
As has been pointed out to me, the torture is supposed to be part of it. The worst thing about the past five or six years isn’t that the Cubs sucked and they were hard to watch. It was that it was so easy to not care and not even watch. It was death by apathy. We longed for this kind of misery. But I guess it’s kind of hard to cherish having misery back. They don’t exactly line up as compatible emotions.
I’m sure it will only get worse as the month goes along. Even these next two days when I’m sure the Reds are going to bring back Austin Kearns for a 2004 redux just for the fuck of it. I’ll tell myself this is ok, the Cubs have done enough already this season, it’s all icing… and I won’t believe a word of it. Maybe it doesn’t help that the Bears are going to be simply awful and the Hawks are headed for a season that a lot of people are going to have a hard time watching for non-hockey reasons (me included). We probably need the Cubs to go as far as they can.
It is a different kind of stress. It’s almost like being a junkie, or so I assume (without the life and familial and physical destruction, or at least I hope). Before the stress from good Cubs teams was simply just a desire to end the drought, the burden it’s been to us as fans. This one? It’s just the pure joy of this team. Sure, I think about what they can do in October, and that’s part of it. But they’ve been so much fun to watch and be a fan of, especially the last month, that I don’t want it to ever not be that fun. I know it will be, I know it can’t last, and even the last week has been like the first hour of coming down from acid. You kind of want to just claw back to where you just were, knowing that you can’t (unless you do more, but then you get thrown out of science class. Or so I’ve heard…).
Ugh. Baseball makes me crazy.