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Learning Heartbreak

April 29, 2013

Let me tell you a story.

The year was 2003 and I was a nine-year old kid in the west suburbs of Chicago.  At this age, you’ve learned to follow either the Cubs or the White Sox, and as my grandpa was a Cubs fan, I naturally followed the Cubs.

My parents went out on a date one night, and my neighbor was watching me.  I watched the Cubs game with him until I had to go to bed.  I didn’t want to sleep of course.  The Cubs were in a chase for the division title with Houston and every game counted. 

I went up to my room to sleep as my neighbor watched on.  Before I slept, I prayed.  The exact words, of course, I don’t remember, but I do remember that I asked God for the Cubs to win the pennant.  I’d gotten the idea from Angels in the Outfield, and when I told my neighbor about the ploy he told me it wouldn’t work.  I had faith regardless.

That Cubs team was stacked with talent.  Their rotation boasted Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and a young but lively Carlos Zambrano.  Their lineup was an offensive force, with Sosa, Alou, Ramirez, and some good contact hitters.

The Cubs surged towards the pennant, winning the division with 88 victories and then moving on to beat the Atlanta Braves in their opening playoff series.  I rooted for the Cubs, but this series marked the first time I heard the Tomahawk Chop at Turner Field.  I’ve loved it ever since.  I remember enjoyed the sound of it during that series, and my dad would jokingly scold me, telling me that if the Chop was playing it meant the Braves were rallying.

The Cubs would play the Florida Marlins next.  Game six came, Bartman interfered (it wasn’t his fault, Moises!), and the Cubs basically choked big time.  I was stunned and saddened.  It was the first heartbreak I’d ever experienced in sports. 

By now ten (my birthday was in September), I believed that God was trying to tell me something.  I still think that.  What exactly?  I still don’t know.  Today, I almost feel as if God told me He won’t interfere with sports and games’ outcomes.  I don’t know.  Maybe He was just telling me to wait.  Maybe He does care that the Cubs win the World Series.  I’ll be honest.  I’d like to think that.

As children, we’re so loyal.  I recall going downtown Naperville, where we lived and still live, wearing my Cubs jersey.  They were my guys.  Heartbreak couldn’t change that.

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