I grew up in Iowa. I went to school at Iowa. Then I moved to Chicago. Plenty of us around here...
Football has always been my first love. Baseball and basketball, those were lesser sports, fun, but you don't get the same satisfaction as you do watching the bone jarring hits and elaborate play execution. As long as I can remember, I was watching the Hawks, they were always there, and if not, I couldn't wait until the next season started.
But once I moved to Chicago, that long off-season finally got to me and I started actually caring about baseball. It's a great town for that, Chicago. Two teams in case you need a choice. Great ballparks, places that are actually fun to watch a game, not like that hellhole in Minneapolis where I had seen a couple of games as a child.
And I was a Cubs fan. Just like that. It's not that I became a fan, I simply was one. Sure, I had plenty of friends, coworkers and even relatives who were fans, but that's not it. I have lots of Sox friends too. I like going to Sox games. I'm not from here, I don't have the knee jerk rivalry hatred. It's not that there are fans all over the country, or that the greater Chicagoland area is Cubs (if you're not from here, it's not 50:50. The burbs are mostly Cubs fans). It's that I had been groomed for it my entire life. It was natural. That is why when the crowd started singing the Iowa fight song at the Cubs game prior to the NIU game, it didn't feel forced. It feel like it could have happened any game.
I could get up any morning, during any season and ask the same questions. How are you going to scrap out a win today. Or blow a lead. How will you make an amazing play, or blow the easiest. It didn't matter which team, they were the same. How will you break my heart today? How will you make me proud to wear those colors?
Grand histories of mediocrity interspaced with flashes of brilliance, only to fall back into the same patterns of destructiveness. The gut wrenching feeling of ownership for both teams, knowing that you have been given something grand to call your own, but that it won't be easy. It's never easy. The sports gods didn't want it to be easy.
Let the Michigans and Yankees have the easy fans, let them have the obvious glory, because we know that it's shallow, that easy winning leads to smugness and bandwagons. But losing...that's what shows character in teams and fans. Getting back up. The emotional rollercoaster, that's what shows who we are.
Don't get me wrong, I've cursed my teams. I've sworn off of them after ugly losses, only to come quickly crawling back, watching, reading, checking stats, because they are who I am. I've done it before and I'll do it again. I'll stop believing. I'll turn games off in disgust, but I'll always be back. I identify with them. Life is hard. Shit happens. But we have a shared bond. We celebrate together, we commiserate together. And there is always next year.
This is the greatest time of the year, the time when I have two teams to love.
So I sit here, watching as the Cubs are losing game 2, waiting feverishly until Saturday when we play Penn State, knowing that we can win this. We can. Maybe we won't, but we can. And if we don't...well, thank you sir, may I have another.