It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
– A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind
Another Cubs’ season has lurched to a close. The Cubs again managed to be very slightly better than last year. But when it’s the first time since 2010 that the Cubs haven’t had 90 or more losses – just 89 this year – you’re grasping at straws. But that’s what Cubs fans do. Grasp at straws. The Cubs were still dead last in the National League Central Division.
The rebuilding process continues. This year, there was definite progress. Some of the new young prospects are performing as advertised, first baseman Anthony Rizzo got over whatever was bothering him last year, and starting pitcher Jake Arrietta repeatedly flirted with a no-hitter this season. The kid has electric stuff. The bullpen only melted down every three or four games, and Hector Rondon seems a solid closer. On the other hand, Javier Baez seemed to have left his bat in the minor leagues. Two steps forward; one step back. A kind of progress. Maybe.
Still, it’s the post season and the Cubs, as usual, are watching the games on television. Six years without making the playoffs. Sixty-nine years without playing in the World Series. And one hundred six long, dark years without winning a World Series.
The Cubs, of course, break their fans’ hearts every year. But despite all that, WC is already looking forward to the 2015 season. In the words of the late Rogers Hornsby, one of the great Cub players of history:
People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.
Maybe next year…
Postscript: For those who need an explanation of this blog post’s title.