Once in a Lifetime

There have been 113 World Series.

The Boston Red Sox didn’t win one from 1918 to 2004, a span of 86 years. Eight more than the average lifetime of an American. You could have lived your whole life as a Red Sox fan and never seen them win. Many, many people did just that. But, you’d be really special if you were a Cubs fan and you’d gone the distance.

The only person I could find who’s announced themselves as a Cubs fan, who’s over 100, and is still alive is Loretta Dolan. She was featured on ABC talking about her ten decades of loyalty that hasn’t been rewarded even once.

To avoid doing the same “price of milk in 1908 compared to today” comparison, I’ll just run down, from when she was born in 1914, she witnessed the following events: World War I, the Russian Revolution, women’s suffrage, The Great Depression, World War II, the introduction of the nuclear age, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, the moon landing, the counter-culture, war in the Middle East, 9/11, more war in the Middle East, the Internet age, the first black President of the United States, the increase of the effects of climate change, the first steps toward sending a human being to Mars, Donald Trump running for President, and 107 World Series winners who weren’t her beloved Cubs.

That’s brutal.

The average American lives to 78 years old. If you’re an American citizen and you live to 100, the President of the United States sends you a letter on your centennial birthday just to congratulate you. If you’ve lived 100 years, you’ve experienced an incredible amount of world history, and you’ve endured, somehow, to cross the barrier of a full century. There were Bostonians who lived to 86 and beyond to see their faith rewarded. I don’t envy them, though.

I’ve been a die-hard Red Sox fan for nearly my entire conscious life, and I only had to endure 13 years of drought before reaching the promised land. But, when it ended, I felt the release of nearly 90 seasons of frustration, of almosts, of nearly-theres, of we’ll-get-’em-next-year’s, of broken promises from hopeful parents to emotionally distraught children, and vice versa, of rally caps rendered stupid-looking once more, of superstitions proven to be ineffective, of curses proven to be absolutely true, of Babe Ruth, of Bucky Dent, of Bill Buckner, of Aaron Boone. Basically, it felt like the universe intervened and said “You can rest now, it’s OK.” I can still feel it. I can’t imagine it being better than that.

I had waited my whole life, and so had so many others, for that exact moment. With the Cubs, there are no known fans who saw the Cubs win their last championship. No one was enough, apparently, to sacrifice on the altar of the baseball gods. They are the most demanding of all sports deities, and they’ve made sure that no one is ready for the Cubs to win a World Series.

They’ve dealt with the goat, with Steve Bartman, with blown leads, with nearly eleven decades of failure. There are teams who have never won a championship, ever, in their existence, but most of those teams are relatively new expansion teams, or from Cleveland. They’ve suffered, but it’s understandable suffering; people get “I’ve waited half my life to see this.” They don’t get it, haven’t earned it. They don’t understand what “forever” means. Red Sox fans and Cubs fans did, and then the Cubs took it to another level. They stand alone, the sports world’s biggest losers. But, there’s a chance. There’s always a chance. And they just might win it all this year. 

I hope that Loretta, and all of the Cubs fans who have inherited the cruel fate of loving a team that doesn’t love its fans back, get to feel that feeling. It will literally be something no one on our planet has ever seen.

I might envy that.

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