Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 17, 2008

     The ageing fan watched on TV as the Chicago Cubs--his Cubs--played the Marlins in Florida.  Cubs down, of course, 2--0.  The camera switched to a kid with a sign--"failure is not an option."  Kid, the fan wondered, how young are you?  Failure has been the Cubs' option for generations now--for, in fact, a century.  The Cubs last won the pennant in 1908--before there was television, or radio, or World War I.  Just five years after the Wright Brothers' first flight.  Failure is always an option.  The ageing fan was a kid the last time the Cubs won the pennant.  That was 1945, more than half a century ago.  If anyone had told the kid then this wouldn't happen again in his lifetime, the kid would have laughed out loud.  The ageing fan, of course, stopped laughing years ago.
     The camera found a woman in the crowd with another, larger sign, "Completely Useless By September."  C-U-B-S, get it?  Surely history was on her side.   But then, all of a sudden in the seventh inning, Cubs batters were drilling hits all over the park.  Or if they didn't swing quickly enough, the Marlins pitcher walked them.  The Cubs, no longer the "lovable losers" of history, scored eight runs in that inning, added an extra later on, and won the game 9--2.  And it's almost September.  And they're in first place in their division.  What's going on here? 
      The first thing to say is that it isn't September yet.  They have plenty of time to lose.  They've shown over the years they know how.  The ageing fan remembers a George Santayana quote:  "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  But the ageing fan does remember, all the Cubs fans remember.  The players don't, of course, because most of them look, to the ageing fan, about thirteen years old.  But the rest of us remember--how could we possibly not?
     Ya gotta believe?  I don't think so.  Fool me once, the old saw goes, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me. The Cubs have fooled a whole lot more than twice.  But maybe?  Just this once?  Do you think?  Stay tuned.

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