Fly the W
Rachel O'Grady | Friday, November 4, 2016
When I was seven years old, my mom sent me to bed in the middle of Game 7 of the NLCS. It was the end of the fifth inning, the Cubs were down 6-5 against the Marlins, and I was confident enough that the Cubs could pull out one more run to send us to the World Series, so I went to bed without much of a fight.
A few hours later, my mom woke up to tell me the Cubs had lost. I remember crying in my bed, heartbroken the Marlins had dashed my team’s shot at winning the World Series. I learned the next day that a Marlin was a type of fish, and I subsequently swore off eating fish in protest. It wasn’t until high school that I started eating fish again.
13-ish years later, by an insane stroke of luck, and more specifically because my dad is the coolest person I know, I was at Game 4 of the World Series, and there was a pit in my stomach I could only associate with waking up to learning the Cubs had lost. It was a feeling I was comfortable with — a feeling you have to be comfortable with if you’re a Cubs fan, for that matter — because all I have known my whole life is the notion of “maybe next year.” Candidly, as I watched the Cubs fall 7-2 in Game 4, the thought flickered in my mind. There’s always next year. After 108 years, what’s one more year?
Last night, I watched breathlessly with countless others as the Cubs made the unimaginable happen.
I’ll admit it, I never thought it was going to happen. Maybe it’s the 20 years of disappointment in most all of my sports teams (I’m looking at you, Notre Dame athletics) or some underlying superstitions, but I was a nervous wreck. I refused to wear my Cubs gear — they had lost every game I had worn it — and I was nearly too jittery to focus on my work.
But then the Cubs made absolute magic happen. Nothing will ever replace the feeling of the moment Kris Bryant, toothy smile and all, threw the ball to Anthony Rizzo for the final out of the game. I was rendered almost speechless, probably for the first time in my life. I didn’t know what to say, or how to react. All I could do was watch and smile.
I grew up about a half-mile north of Wrigley Field, and if you sit on my front porch any given Cubs home game, you don’t need to watch the game to know the score. You can sing along to the seventh inning stretch on hot summer nights, and if there’s a concert playing at Wrigley you can hear the band perfectly from my bedroom window. My mom loves the Cubs like a fourth child and proudly flies the W over our porch during playoff season. Wrigleyville is probably my favorite place in the world, and while I’m incredibly homesick while writing this, the joy in my neighborhood right now is probably plentiful enough without me. Words can’t describe the way I’m feeling right now, and I feel bad for even trying, because for a kid from the North Side, this is so much more than a baseball game. For the last time this season, I’m flying the W.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.