As the snow falls softly on a crisp April evening in Chicago, I don’t even care enough to complain. My attention is firmly turned to the much warmer West Coast, where later tonight my beloved Chicago Cubs will kick off what promises to be an unforgettable season. For the average fan, there are two ways it could be unforgettable. In one scenario, the Cubs live up to the highest expectations they’ve been given in my lifetime and actually win that elusive World Series. They become the biggest sports sensation in the world, and everyone becomes a Cubs fan.
In the second scenario, they choke fantastically despite their heralded offseason acquisitions and deeply stacked lineup. They return to being a national punchline and everyone says “I told you so.”
But for me, this will be an unforgettable season no matter which scenario unfolds: This is the Cubs season during which my daughter will be born. She will be here in time for the dog days of the season and the stretch run! Unbelievable.
This evening we celebrated Opening Day with our monthly checkup. We are now at 22 weeks and everything is still looking good for the August 5 due date. Our daughter is also looking good in terms of her prenatal pedigree as a Cubs fan. The first gift we received (minutes after making the announcement) was a “Future Cubs Fan” maternity shirt from my Mom. Our daughter has also already attended her first Cubs game, during our babymoon to Arizona. Most people from Cubbie-loving families can say they have been a Cubs fan from birth, but our daughter can be even more of a hipster about it. Before she was born, she had already attended a Cubs game pitched by Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and featuring Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant.
But that’s just trivia. The real fun will begin a few years from now, when our daughter is old enough to potentially share my passion, learn about the beautiful sport of baseball and really understand the team that has been putting her father’s heart through the wringer for more than 30 years. 1
I can’t wait to share my interests with her, and my love of the Cubs is second only to my Catholicism in terms of proclivities I hope to pass on.2 But don’t worry…I’m no tyrant. I’ll give her a choice: She can either love the Cubs or have no interest in baseball. Totally up to her.
I will do whatever I can to show her the merits of being a Cubs fan, which should be a lot easier than it has been for several generations of Cubs fathers, as she will arrive at a time of unprecedented success for the team. In fact, I will most likely have to take extra precaution and provide ample Cubs history lessons to ensure that she is not spoiled by the success she experiences in the earliest stages of her Cubs indoctrination. I want her to understand all the lessons I learned as a suffering Cubs fan throughout the 1990s — that good things come to those who wait, that you can’t turn your back on a team just because they’re losing, and that Theo Epstein is a freaking genius.
When she has reached the age of baseball reason, I hope she is still a fan of then-aging veteran Anthony Rizzo and clubhouse leader Kyle Schwarber. I can tell her stories about the time I watched them make history at Wrigley Field. I can share the agony and ecstasy I have endured, the definition of life as a Cubs fan. I can share the stories of Cubs legends like Ron Santo and Ernie Banks that her Cubs fan grandparents grew up watching. In lieu of strongly ethnic or cultural traditions to inherit, she will understand that being a Cubs fan is the continuation of a sacred bond that stretches back for generations in my family. We will not speak of that team in St. Louis that her mother’s side of the family tree worships like a golden calf. Besides, I officially turned her mother last year.
I can’t wait to take her to the Friendly Confines for the first time and watch her eyes light up when she takes that last step up the ramp to the field level and sees the ivy on the walls, the freshly mowed grass and the pristine bases punctuating the infield dirt and perfect foul lines. I’ll show her how to keep score on a scorecard and tell her about the hand-operated scoreboard3. We’ll get her a jersey of her favorite player and she can choose which hat to wear from my extensive Cubs hat collection4. No pink hats for this girl. She’s a real fan.
Obviously there’s no way of knowing whether or not this is a pipe dream and she’ll have no interest in baseball or the Cubs. If that’s the case, I might be a bit disappointed, but I will eventually accept it.5 I might insist that she keep using our Cubs-themed bathroom though, just in case there’s a way to make her change her mind.
Regardless of what the future holds, this is going to be a very special baseball season for my family. We’ll be welcoming a new player to our team right after the July 31 trading deadline, and I’m going to be her biggest fan.
- in preparation for his daughter?
- As previously discussed, she can also be left-handed if she wants.
- which BETTER be there forever!
- 22 hats and counting…
- The Cubs have taught me how to handle the crushing of my dreams with dignity and grace.