We all believe. We believe that the sun will rise each morning. We believe we’ll take our next breath. If you are a person of faith, you believe in a higher power that directs or influences your steps. Belief is a powerful thing, something that keeps us together in a crazy and undependable world.
So when some of those beliefs are challenged or destroyed, it can be a devastating thing. As Cardinal fans, we have two main tenets of belief. One, that the Cardinals will be playing in October. Two, that when the World Series comes around, the National League team will not come from the North Side.
This year, 2016, has been a rough year on many fronts. We’ve seen numerous celebrity deaths, some that shook people to their core. We’ve seen a presidential election that is probably the worst of our lifetimes. All of that pales, though, to the basic Cardinal tenets coming under attack.
The Cardinals did not make the playoffs and the Cubs are in the World Series.
The first part of that is easier for Cardinal fans to come to terms with. After all, while we always expect to be in the playoffs, we know that the Redbirds don’t always make it there. Most of us remember 2010, the last time they were sitting home when the playoffs started. Many of us were old enough to remember the end of the Brewery days, when the playoffs weren’t even within reach. (Many youngsters have no idea what real ugliness was because they weren’t alive in 1990.) We don’t like it, but we can deal with it. I mean, even if you miss the playoffs, there’s a good chance you’ll be back there next year.
The Cubs in the World Series, though, is worldview altering. My father was three when the Cubs last made it to the Fall Classic. There were things you could count on and one of those were those baby bears coming short even if they somehow found themselves in October. Between Leon Durham and the Steve Bartman game, history–even recent history–was littered with examples.
And if San Francisco had a bullpen or the Dodgers didn’t implode in a couple of games, maybe all would be right with the world. The Cubs were beatable in this offseason, but credit where credit is due, they played extremely well and battled out of tough situations. This is a different team than Chicago has fielded in the past and nothing should be taken away from them. On talent and any baseball point, they deserve to be in the Series.
As a Cardinal fan, though, it’s very hard to wrap my head around this. The Billy Goat Curse, while not the reason the Cubs hadn’t been in there since ’45, was a great piece of lore. Now, depending on who you talk to, it could be over. (Many others seem to think that the “curse” isn’t lifted until they win the whole thing.) There’s been this comforting fact that, no matter how things change, no matter how baseball evolves, no matter if it’s in a slugging era, a pitching era, or a speed era, the Cubs are still going to be the team with the longest Series drought. 108 years and counting…..but that counting might now be measured in hours and days rather than years and decades.
Heck, I’ve always had a small amount of joy that my house number is 1908, the same year the Cubs last won a series. They are working on denying me even the smallest of pleasures!
Change is rarely good. I know, I know, a lot of people think this thing that “you have to change to survive” and “change is growth”. Whatever. I was perfectly content with this status quo. There was no need to ruin a great streak, a great thread of baseball. However, the Cubs apparently had a different idea. They just can’t respect the game and keep that losing streak going!
I know there are some great Cub fans out there that are ecstatic about this series and I guess in some way I’m glad that they are experiencing this, even though it wouldn’t have been my choice. I usually enjoy the friendly banter that we engage in and I know that they really love their team the way we love the Cardinals, though without as much reciprocity if you look at October results. I know they are going to be fired up about things starting Tuesday. I just hope that fire dies out quickly because 1) I’m not ready to live in a world with the Cubs as World Series champs and 2) I’m not wanting to die over the next week.