By Sandra Marchetti
When the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, they ended the franchise’s 108-year streak of cruel futility. This year, the label of “lovable losers” died. It lived a long, full life. It got to see its grandchildren visit Wrigley Field. The nickname has passed on after living for over a century. Goodbye grandma; we’re the newborn lovable champs now. Make no mistake, Cub fans will still go to Wrigley to drink beer and spin yarns on Friday afternoons. We’ll still trash talk the Cardinals and the Mets. But there will be no more hopeful melancholy, at least not for the next decade or so.
In 2014, the last year the Cubs had a losing record, I wrote a poem about the malaise that defined Cub fans. Here are the last couple stanzas:
If it never happened,
would we root on a .500
club, be pleased with less
than 200 strikeouts,
20 errors at short?
We flicker in our seats, dimly
recede, but never leave.
Since the Cubs won it all in 2016, there’s no more room for this type of wallowing in Chicago. Some say the Cub fan’s identity is predicated on the “there’s always next year” trope. I know Cub fans that feel a little lost in the waves of the team’s newfound excellence. They wonder, “What’s next? I’ve gotten everything I ever wanted.” Others are off stockpiling “World Series Champions” t-shirts. Me? I’m embracing it—like someone whose had an epiphany, a new lease on life. The grass is a little greener out there. History has no longer forgotten us. From here on out I plan to celebrate November 2nd, the day the Cubs clinched the title, like a national holiday. Sure I’ve woken up a few times with nightmares of us never receiving the trophy, but what Cub fan hasn’t? Most days, I’m lucid and I’m enjoying this.
Unlike most folks who want to see the year burn off like a bad fog, my goodbye to 2016 is bittersweet. “This was the year” a third-generation, diehard fan got to see her team win it all. At least five million of us celebrated. And, as a Cub fan, I know to cherish that—it may never happen again.
*Excerpt from poem, “The Unsayable,” originally published at Hobart
Sandra Marchetti is the author of Confluence, a full-length collection of poetry from Sundress Publications (2015). She is also the author of four chapbooks of poetry and lyric essays, including Sight Lines (Speaking of Marvels Press, 2016), Heart Radicals (ELJ Publications, 2016), A Detail in the Landscape (Eating Dog Press, 2014), and The Canopy (MWC Press, 2012). Sandra’s poetry appears widely in Subtropics, Ecotone, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Blackbird, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. Her essays can be found at The Rumpus, Words Without Borders, Mid-American Review, Whiskey Island, Entropy, and other venues. Sandy earned an MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry from George Mason University and is a Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies at Aurora University outside of Chicago