My name is Chris ... and I'm a Cubs fan.
I was a rambunctious baby, but according to my father, the easiest way to keep me quiet and still was to sit me in front of a Cubs game on TV. The voice of Jack Brickhouse apparently had a hypnotic affect on me, and for better or worse, I've been hooked on Cubs baseball ever since.
I was born and raised on the South Side and can remember being made fun of by the other kids on my way to and from school because I was wearing my Cubs jacket or Cubs cap. Sox fans, even at a young age, are an intolerant bunch.
One of my favorite childhood memories is from Sept. 24, 1984 when my father drove me and my brother to my grandfather's home on a school night so that we could watch the NL East division clincher together. What a great bonding experience it was. I remember how happy Dad and Pops were after Rick Sutcliffe struck out Joe Orsulak for the final out. My father was 37 and had never seen the Cubs play a postseason game. My grandfather, who was 64, missed their 1945 World Series appearance while stationed in the Pacific.
One of my least favorite childhood recollections happened before a Cubs-Sox post strike exhibition game in 1981 at the old Comiskey Park. I handed my pen and program to the Cubs' Steve Henderson but before he could oblige my autograph request, he was approached by the Sox's Bill Almon. He flipped the pen and program back to me and warmly greeted his former Mets teammate. The two turned their backs to me, began chatting it up, and walked together out into left field. I still hate Steve Henderson.
The most upset I've ever been with the Cubs happened after the 1992 season when I turned on SportsCenter one night and learned that Greg Maddux had signed with Atlanta. It confirmed my worst fear that Larry Himes would find a way to screw things up.
I watched Maddux grow up before my eyes, from a green rookie to the best pitcher of my generation. He is by far my all-time favorite Cub and his brief return to the North Side near the end of his career offered me some consolation. Maddux, besides being great, was reliable, modest, never made excuses when he failed, and was a great teammate. The team always came first. What was there not to admire about the guy?
Other disappointments? Of course, I've had a few. The only time the Cubs made me cry was after they lost Game 5 in '84 in San Diego. I promised myself that I would never let them hurt me like that again. I guess I expect the best, but prepare myself to handle the worst. It's an attitude that's suited for Cubs baseball. It's a long season with many highs and lows.
A Cubs fan has to be prepared for a consistent avalanche of despair, but also must possess the ability to appreciate the joy the team can bring.
In 2008, I believe that far too many Cubs fans were too preoccupied with Jason Marquis' performance, Carlos Marmol's inconsistency, and who the team was going to face in the playoffs. They did not stop to smell the roses and failed to appreciate the most magical regular season in my lifetime.
And there are many small pleasures that the Cubs can bring. Drinking a cold beer on a warm, sunny spring day while taking in the action at the world's most breathtakingly beautiful ballpark. Spending quality time with the people who are most important in my life. Soaking in the satisfaction of a come-from-behind win. Watching a difficult game being played at the highest level.
I am confident that my faith will be rewarded while I am still drawing breath. Could this year be THE YEAR? Let's find out!