Waiting for Next Year

I was very glad to hear that HBO finally figured things out when it comes to their sports documentaries. HBO makes great documentaries. If you are a fan of the documentary like I am and a fan of sports in general you will love the HBO sports documentary. Hell, I even enjoy that “Real Sports” magazine show HBO does that’s hosted by Bryant Gumbel. That’s saying something considering how little there is to like about Bryant Gumbel.

Anyway, a few years ago they had a documentary come out where a bunch of Bostonians bitched and moaned and whined about their precious Red Sox not winning the World Series. I mean, the general attitude towards Bostonians and their Red Sox is that they are cursed because they couldn’t win a World Series. They showed scene after scene of the Red Sox in the World Series, time and again, and again and again, most of it during my life time and somehow blowing it.

I live in Chicago. I have lived here most of my life. I have been a White Sox fan for most of that time. Do you know how many times in my, roughly, thirty years of being a Sox fan I saw my team in the World Series? Once.

Now, in my family my father has been a Chicago Cubs fan for most of his life. I mean, he has been a die-hard Cubs fan most of his life. There may have been a few years there as a toddler when he was not a Cubs fan, but as long as I have been alive he has been. When I was growing up and if it was summer and it was afternoon and my dad did not have the Cubs game on then you knew something was wrong.

In my father’s lifetime do you know how many times the Chicago Cubs have even made an appearance in the World Series, let alone been there to lose one? Never. Not once. Ever.

So, forgive me all of you Bostonians if I had a feeling that you were sure crying a lot over spilt milk. The number of times I have heard may father wish he could just once watch a World Series game that had his favorite team in it, win or lose, are too numerous to count. You want curses? The Cubs have cursed to put that quaint “Curse of the Babe” thing to rest.

The Cubs have the curse of the goat. You see there is this restaurant here called the Billy Goat Tavern. For a while, evidently, it was some kind of tradition for the owner of the Billy Goat to bring an actual Billy Goat to his seats at Wrigley Field. It was a kind of advertisement for his establishment and a bit of fun at the game and maybe some kind of good luck charm. In the mid-40s the Cubs had a great year. Lo and behold they made it to the World Series. The owner of the Billy Goat showed up at one of the World Series games with his goat and he was turned away. He was told his goat stank and no one wanted him around. Rumor has it he cursed the Cubs that they would not win a World Series game again. When the Cubs lost the series he supposedly sent a note to the Cubs management saying, “Who stinks now?”

Now THAT’S a curse story! Some stupid rumor about Babe Ruth being traded is rather lame when you have farm animals involved. Not to mention a crazy immigrant known for making hamburgers who thinks bringing a goat to a World Series game is somehow acceptable.

So, my general attitude when I watched this impassioned documentary with weepy Boston Red Sox fans crying over their team losing one World Series after another was, “Hey, what about Chicagoans?” Even the aforementioned Mr. Gumbel, a former Chicagoan, made a comment during his show that if you want to find real cursed fans you should do a documentary about Cubs fans.

The Cubs have been very close a couple of times in my lifetime. In 1984 the Cubs had some kind of miracle year. I was still high off of the Sox making it into the playoffs the year before. However, I had to admit, even I got caught up in the Cubs mania that year. Then they were so incredibly close to making it into the World Series. Then things started happening like routine ground balls going underneath a first baseman’s glove and we had our own homegrown Bill Buckner moment.

OF course, most Cubs fans remember 2003. A lot of sports writers like to say the Cubs were five outs away from making the World Series. Then there are a lot of people who say it was all Steve Barman’s fault for him grabbing at a foul ball that may or may not have been caught. What they forget is that the ball was well into the stands and that just after that play the Cubs All-Star short-stop booted a ball into the outfield and that the team let that one mistake with the fan cause them to collapse entirely. A true team meant for greatness could have gotten past a bad play and won.

Anyway, I saw a commercial over the weekend that HBO has finally come to its senses. They have a documentary coming out called “Wait Until Next Year.” Of course that phrase is the familiar mantra of Cubs fans. It will be about the Cubs, their terrible curses and their long-running losing streak. Just a reminder, the last time the Cubs won a Word Series was in 1908. That is nearly 100 years ago. That is a Century of not winning the Series. The last time they made it to the Series was in the 40s. That is a long, long time without even making an appearance. Not even making an appearance, Bostonians, let alone making it and then losing it.

Maybe it will be good luck. When HBO did that special about the Red Sox, not a season or two later, the Red Sox won the whole thing. It would have been sweet if the Cubs could have pulled that out this year so you could have had the Red Sox and then the White Sox and then the Cubs winning the whole thing for the “Cursed” trifecta.

Oh, well, wait until next year.

Bryan Alaspa’s new novel Dust is now available at his website www.bryanalaspa.com and at www.amazon.com.

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