It’s been a long time since I’ve had this feeling.
It’s been seven years since I’ve even allowed myself the thought of giving myself hope about this team, and while I’m not quite there yet, it still scares the life out of me like I’m the 10-year-old whose parents let him watch a horror movie before bedtime.
I’m trying to not think about it and I’m trying to show I’m not scared. But I’m terrified.
I’m talking about my Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs just swept the defending World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants in four games at Wrigley Field, are 9-1 in their last 10 games and now sit (somewhat) comfortably in that final wild card spot in what could land them their first postseason birth since 2008.
There’s still tons of baseball left to be played, and a 3.5 game lead over the Giants in the wild card could be erased very quickly with just one bad series, but that’s what scaring me. I’m writing this column about the postseason chances of my team with plenty of baseball to go.
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘What’s the big deal?’ you might need a little history of the Chicago Cubs so here it is in a nutshell.
The Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. That’s not a typo. They also haven’t even had the privilege of losing a World Series since 1945. From there, the entire Cubs postseason history is as follows:
After being up two games to none in a best-of-five series against the San Diego Padres in 1984, the Cubs magnificently lost the next three games in crushing fashion.
In 1989 the Cubs were beaten easily, four games to one by the Giants.
In 1998 they were swept by the Atlanta Braves in three games.
In 2003 they beat the Braves three games to two in the NLDS and were up three games to one over the Florida Marlins in the NLCS only needing to win one of their next three games to go to their first World Series since the year we dropped the bomb.
What’s more, after losing game five of the series, the Cubs were up 3-1 in the eight inning of game six, at home, with their star pitcher, Mark Prior on the mound. Then, chaos happened. The Cubs gave up eight runs aided by an error by their shortstop, and perhaps a Cubs fan who I won’t name because he’s gone down in history enough.
The Cubs lost games six and seven. They were five outs away from winning a pennant and had the rug ripped out from underneath them. It hurt. I was a freshman in high school and I remember crying into my pillow after those final two games.
From there the Cubs made the postseason in 2007 and 2008 getting swept in each of those postseasons.
I’ll have you know I didn’t research that playoff history at all. I know it’s valid because I know it by heart. It’s not difficult to remember such a brief history.
It’s been almost 12 years since the Cubs won a postseason game and with the stakes being so high every time, fans like myself get nervous even when the team gets close to the postseason, which now has been quite a long time or so it feels.
Out of the 17 remaining teams the Cubs play this season, only seven have a winning record. They’re near the top of the National League in nearly every offensive and defensive statistic as of late, and what’s more the Cubs have the eighth youngest roster in the majors. They’re too young to know they’re supposed to blow it.
But that’s the thing, if and when the Cubs do blow it, like the script says they should, I’m going to let myself get hurt again. Why? It’s just what Cubs fans do. We’re too dumb to know any better. We’re the toddler poking the cat in the corner of the room probably knowing somewhere in our brain that this decision is probably going to come back to haunt us, and it always does.
That cat is going to take a big swing, claws extended at the toddler, and somewhere between now and the end of October it’s going to take a swipe at the Cubs and it’s, once again for the 106th time, going to be a long off-season.
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391, firstname.lastname@example.org or @WUDefender on Twitter.