Game One… Eleven to Go…

Game one is tonight.

At this very moment, on this particular day of all days, I wish I was in Chicago. If you’ve been reading, and you’ve remembered a little of what you’ve read, and if you know anything about me, you’ll know that this is a magical time of the year for me. And this year more specifically, it could quite possibly be more magical than it’s been in a very long time. Today is day two of the MLB playoffs. The Astros won last night, beating the Yankees. More importantly, the Chicago Cubs travel to Pittsburgh, the first time they’ve been invited to the second season since 2008.

I’ve watched many of their games this year. I’ve been to two of them, both in San Francisco, sitting four rows behind the Cubs dugout in a dominating win by Arietta with the Giants coming back the next day as I sat fourteen rows back on the third base side. Aside from those two games in August, especially during all those exciting games in Chicago, I longed for my seats at Wrigley. Unfortunately, the five days I spent in Chicago in mid-September found the Cubbies away from home unable to quench my longing, though I did walk by the ballpark one afternoon.

Though I’ve watched from afar, this season has truly been magical, opening the hearts of Cubs’ fans from all over that any and all things could be possible. From rookies like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber to MVP candidate Anthony Rizzo to new manager, the battle tested and proven Joe Maddon to the postseason veteran free agency addition Jon Lester to the all-world unprecedented pitching dominance of Jake Arrieta, all contributing to the greatest turnaround from last year in the MLB this season (24 games in the win column), 26 come-from-behind victories with 13 coming off a walk-off, this team has made this summer the best one in a long time.

Hope springs eternal; and this particular Spring, hope was most definitely in the air. Loaded with young talent and unlikely stars and after-thought additions, this team truly believes they can do it. Starting with Rizzo’s proclamation on the last day of last season that the Cubs will win the division (why not?) to Maddon’s beliefs and assertions from day one and every day since that they will make the playoffs, we now believe. Though these Cubs may be a year early in Theo Epstein’s grand plan to bring us back to prominence, this team is built for the long haul, to be good not just this season, but many more seasons to come.

Game one is tonight.

It is time to erase the broken hearts of 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003 (most especially 2003), 2007 and 2008 and fill it with hope. And so it is now that I leave with my hopes held high sending to Wrigleyville and all of Chicago.. to all Cubs fans all over the country… to each and every player on the team great vibes against the Pirates, to bring home a victory for the right to play the Cardinals in the next round.

I remember 2003 like it was yesterday. I don’t think about Game 6 that will live in infamy, and what most people point to when thinking about this epic series. I don’t think about Mark Prior coasting along before the wheels unraveling. I don’t think about Alex Gonzalez who led all shortstops in fielding that year, who made an error. I don’t think about Moises Alou earlier in the inning angry for fan interference on a foul ball fly. And most definitely I don’t think about that fan Steve Bartman. It’s Game 7 that has always left its indelible mark in my heart. I was at a bar on Lincoln Ave in the heart of Lincoln Park with my friends. A dominant fire-baller on the mound Kerry Wood. And though Wood quickly gave up three runs, the bottom of the first, Wood hit a two-run homer to tie the game and the following inning Alou hits another two-run homer to take the lead. I remember exactly how I felt after those two home runs. I was fighting back tears cos I knew without a doubt at that moment what was going to happen. The Cubs were going to the World Series.

That didn’t happen.

That was twelve years ago. This is a new generation of Cubs players, some of whom had barely blown out over ten candles on their birthdays in 2003.

This is a new team.

Game one is tonight.

And with each win, another tear shall be shed, until hopefully the flood gates will be opened to end 108 seasons without a title.

Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go!
Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!!

Only twelve wins to go.
Let’s get the first one tonight.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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