The timing of the release of “Maybe Next Year” is exquisite.
Exquisitely good, you might think, for those of us who are Cubs fans, especially since our team got featured on the cover of this book.
Or, exquisitely bad for author Greg Pearson, who interviewed 100 fans of 23 teams that are — or in the Cubs’ case, were — in extended droughts without a championship.
Full disclosure: I was interviewed extensively for this book and quoted in the chapter about the Cubs, which is the first of the chapters about various teams, ranging from the Buffalo Bills and Phoenix Suns to college programs such as Mississippi State and Northwestern, and also including other baseball teams like the Padres, Astros, Rangers and Mariners. (Those four, plus the Nationals, Brewers, Rockies and Rays, are the eight teams that have never won a World Series.)
Books like this can have long lead times, especially when the book is composed of interviews with dozens of people. I spoke to Greg Pearson in January 2015 — before either of the last two playoff seasons for the Cubs. So, of course, my quotes and those from the two other Cubs fans interviewed (Brian Bernardoni and Marcia Colton) reflect how we felt on the cusp of Joe Maddon’s first season as manager. Optimistic, but still clouded by the history of (then) 106 years without a World Series title.
Reading about the Cubs from that standpoint is interesting, now that they have won it all. It is, I think, a good thing to look back on where we were, to understand better how we feel now, and going forward.
The other 22 chapters contain similar stories from the other fans. Similar themes are voiced by nearly everyone who was interviewed: “It’s family.” “It’s in our DNA.” “We never give up.” In the chapter about the Cleveland Browns, Kiersten Rurka says about her Browns fan father, who died in 2009: “Being a Browns fan is a part of him that I still have.”
That’s a feeling I know all of us can relate to, celebrating the Cubs’ World Series championship in the names of so many friends and family members who didn’t make it to November 2, 2016.
This book is enjoyable, even though it’s about failure. More than that, it’s about perseverance. And after the Cubs’ World Series win, any of the fans of any of the other 22 teams in this book can think, “Hey, maybe we can win it all.”
Here’s the full cover image.