The Diary of a Long-Suffering Cubs' Fan

Please permit me a day off from being a catechist (we have no class tonight…Columbus Day) so that I can share my reflections on the demise of the 2007 Cubs.

Alas, Lucy has pulled the football away from Charlie Brown once again, just when we thought that maybe, just maybe, this will be the time that he’ll finally get to kick that ball! Don’t we know any better?

Like Jeremiah, we Cubs’ fans are lamenting (and I paraphrase Jeremiah 20:7 here), “You duped me Cubs, and I let myself be duped.”

After the painful collapse of 2003 (which followed painful collapses in 1984 and 1969, not to mention disappointing losses in 1989 and 1998), I,like many Cubs’ fans, swore not to get my hopes up again. Paraphrasing Jeremiah once again, “I said to myself, I will not mention them, I will speak their name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”

So, like a fool, I succumbed to the vortex of hope. I went to several games down the stretch. I wore my Cubs jersey and cap. I even sat in the bleachers once! I cheered and rooted (and yes, I was one of the people who boo-ed Zambrano a month or so ago…I’ve been a fan for over 40 years…I’ve earned the right!). They clinched the division on my birthday and a little part of me said, “maybe, just maybe, this is the year.”

Of course, if you blinked your eyes, you missed the playoff series…the Cubs never really showed up. As I watched the first game of the series, I said to my wife, “OK…2 strikes on Soriano…here comes a big sweeping curve ball in the dirt.” Sure enough, a big sweeping curve ball in the dirt…and Soriano whiffs. As did Lee, and Ramirez and countless others. I thought, “If I know what pitch is coming next, and they’re the ones getting paid mega-millions, shouldn’t they know as well?” That would be asking too much, I guess.

And so, we welcome many newly initiated Cubs fans to the world of disappointment…all those young Cubs fans who thought that by being positive they could will the Cubs to a championship. These are the folks who chided me and other veteran Cub fans for being pessimistic about the Cubs’ chances. Seasoned Cub fans know that it is emotionally safer to be jaded and cynical when it comes to the Cubs’ chances. It hurts less when they let you down. We don’t see it as being pessimistic…just realistic. Why are we afraid that the other shoe will drop? Because it always has (at least for 99 years).

Now, the familiar refrain goes up (for the 99th time): “wait till next year.” Perhaps the commisioner of baseball can proclaim 2008 to be a jubilee year when, after 100 years of waiting, prisoners of futility will be released, the Cubs’ debt will be forgiven, and the baseball gods will shower mercy on all of Cubdom, bringing about a year of joy.

I, myself, will keep expectations very low…less chance of being disappointed. The quiet pessimism of many of us veteran Cubs fans will not affect the Cubs as they will have 40,000 screaming and cheering fans rooting them on at every home game and singing the Steve Goodman anthem, “Go, Cubs, Go!”

I for one, will be recalling the refrain from Steve Goodman’s other great Cubs’ song, “The Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request:”

Do they still play the blues in Chicago
When baseball season rolls around?
When the snow melts away,
Do the Cubbies still play
In their ivy covered burial ground?
When I was a boy they were my pride and joy
But now they only bring fatigue
To the home of the brave
The land of the free
And the doormat of the national league

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. Those of us who root for the Phillies have their 1980 World Series win to console us, and it was just 1993 when they were in the Series, losing to Toronto (!), but keeping us firmly grounded is the fact that we racked up our 10,000th loss this season (And we got swept by Colorado!). It’s the same story with the Phils and the Cubbies: Just a matter fo time before they implode…

  2. Joe
    I hate to remind you at this painful time but it is one of our most essensial christian virtues to have hope. If we shut ourselves off from hope we loose out on all kinds of wonderful miracles and blessings. If Mary Magdeline had abandon all hope she would never have gone to the tomb and found that her redeemer lives. If we shut ourselves off from having hope in the face of a difficult class of students we miss seeing their small moments of goodness and reinforce their negative self images.
    If we look at the world throught the eyes of hope we find the moments of joy that we might otherwise miss.
    P.S. Not to mention personally if I had no hope I couldn’t be a life long Red Sox fan. Statistics kill hope but the memory of joyful moments in time like the world series a few years ago carry us through even the darkess of days. (hey! isn’t that kind of like the Eucharist? The living memory of Christ’s presence nurishes us and gives us hope in our darkes days)

  3. Maura, I imagine it’s not very wise to do battle with a theological virtue!

    I appreciate your kind words! Please know that my baseball commentary is intended to be taken lightly…I’m just having fun with it. At the same time, sports is a metaphor for life and does indeed challenge us to practice virtues that we must rely on in real life situations.

    Likewise, I try to differentiate between hope and wishful thinking. Christian hope is grounded in absolute confidence. Wishful thinking is fleeting. I prefer to place hope in that which truly matters in life while saving my wishful thinking for things like the Cubs!

    It must be nice to have a joyful memory like the BoSox World Series a few years ago! (I think they’re going to do it again this year.) It’s not that hard to find people in other cities who have memories of a World Series championship, even if a few decades ago. On the other hand, my mom’s best friend is 95 years old and a die-hard Cub fan and even SHE does not have a memory of a Cubs’ World Series championship! Now THAT’S sad!

    Bottom line, as I hinted in my original post, I talk pessimistically about the Cubs and claim that I will not hope in them again but, you can bet that when next year rolls around, I and all of us Cubs’ fans will be tuning in and secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe, this could be the year!

    That’s the beauty of baseball…hope springs eternal!

  4. As I write a paper on Mark’s Suffering Servant, I can only imagine what a World Series win will bring for generations of suffering Cubbies fans!

    Seriously, I appreciate this commentary because this is the “real stuff” kids enjoy that helps spur discussions in the classroom, ie, hope, perserverence, even the social justice issue of ridiculous salaries for athletes/entertainers!

    Hang in there, Joe – only 4 months until players report to spring training! Wait ’til next year!

  5. Janet, thanks for your thoughts. Doesn’t it kill you to see a team that’s been around for only 15 years (the Rockies) vying for an NL penant against a team that’s been around for about 15 years (The D’Backs)?!!! And to see pitchers with .500 records heading to the World Series?!!! The Cubs sure made AZ look unbeatable but now they seem so mortal. I think Boston goes all the way.

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