Earlier this year, I got to visit my old elementary school, Men-Riv Elementary. I attended Men-Riv from second grade to fourth grade and those years were some of the best in my life. The school is now a training center for future teachers and a lot has changed on the inside, but as I was walking down the hallways the memories came flooding back to me. It was a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but it was not about living in the past; it was about honoring the past.
The Chicago Cubs are a baseball team with a lot of history and while they have not went to or won a World Series in my lifetime, there have been some great and memorable moments in the past 39 years. Yet to listen to the media you would think that the Chicago Cubs have never won a championship and its fanbase is a bunch of ignorant, lazy, complacent drunks. I mean no disrespect saying this, but I get tired of listening to how St. Louis is the "best baseball town." St. Louis is a great baseball town with great fans, but enough already with commentator after commentator parroting the line about how they're the best. I don't know if Chicago is the best baseball town or if their fans are the best. I would say they are, but I am biased. However, you will not find a more loyal and dedicated baseball town or fans as the ones that are on the North Side of Chicago.
Admittedly, it is frustrating for me as a fan that my favorite team has not won a World Series in over a century. It helps to have a self-deprecating sense of humor about this sort of thing because you know you're going to wind up the butt of jokes. But it's not the fault of the fans for years of bad ownership and mismanagement on the part of the Cubs. We weren't the ones making trades, signing free agents, not signing free agents or coming up with this concoction known as the "College of Coaches." However, if there is one trait that is both the best and worst quality of a Cubs fan it is loyalty. Even when the Cubs had losing teams in the past that were eliminated from contention by July, the fans still showed up in droves at Wrigley Field. That is loyalty. That is dedication. But that also might have been the wrong signal to send to Cubs ownership because had those people stayed home, there would have been empty seats and perhaps management might have worked harder and faster to put a winner on the field.
Even though not winning a pennant has been difficult for fans to digest, you've got to admit that the Cubs have experienced a lot of success in the past decade. Sure, we have not won a pennant or a World Series. But who would you rather be? The Cubs or the Pittsburgh Pirates? Or how about the Kansas City Royals? I never bought into the "curse" theory and it's long overdue that people get past that. However, there is always the possibility that when the Cubs are in the playoffs again and a bizarre play like a bad call or a strange hop that somehow eludes an infielder will immediately make people go, "Oh no. Not again." I think that we all need to get that negative crap out of our heads once and for all. I'm not saying that I want the Cubs and their fans to be cocky. I'm saying let's have some confidence for once and for all. There is a difference between cocky and confident. Cocky is when you have to pump yourself up to make you believe that you can accomplish something. Confident is when you don't have to do that because you already know you can do it. It's almost like being able to see the future and knowing that as long as you do your job that you will succeed.
Kirk Gibson once said that when he was coming up with the Tigers that there were people in the media and outside who would say critical and mean-spirited things about him and the team. His response was, "Let them say what they want. Don't respond to them because we'll have our day." Gibson was never a Cub, but I think that it would help if we were to adopt that kind of attitude. We're never going to get respect from the media especially the two Cardinals homers at FOX Sports. We know that when the Cubs go back to the playoffs that we're going to be inundated with the gratuitous montage of the black and white picture of the goat, 1969 and the black cat staring at Santo, 1984 and Durham and 2003 and Bartman. Let's just get that out there right now. It's going to happen. So what? Screw them. It's in the past. As someone once said, "The problem with living in the past is that there's no future in it." The future is now in Chicago. This team is in excellent hands and we're heading in the right direction, but success isn't going to happen overnight. I'd rather see the team take a few lumps in 2012 and then get better every year after 2012, eventually becoming an annual contender for the World Series. We can do it. And when the Cubs finally do win the World Series, we'll be able to appreciate it so much more than a team like the Yankees who have won it so many times. We'll be able to say "This one's for you, Ron Santo! This one's for you, Fergie! This one's for you, Ernie! This one's for you, Ryno!" and so on and so forth. It will be honoring our past, not living in it. Because we live in the now and the future is now for the Cubs. Go Cubs go!