Column: How the Cubs rekindled my love for baseball

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(Photo courtesy: Tribune News Service)

After the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series after a 108-year drought , the team’s fanbase has succumbed to the trend of bandwagon/fair-weather fandom. 

I’ll admit it, I can be tabbed as a fair-weather fan, not bandwagon, fair-weather. But not fully – let me explain:

My dad and I used to play as the Cubs on EA Sports MVP Baseball 2005 on our PlayStation 2. We would usually play against the Florida Marlins in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. We had the likes of Corey Patterson, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Moises Alou, Kerry Wood, Nomar Garciaparra and my second all-time favorite Cub, Sammy Sosa.

My family would watch Cubs games on WGN called by Len Kasper, watching those same players play in real life.

Over time, the players change. The Cubs were on an upward trend until the turn of the decade. Then, they fell off the face of the baseball planet. They were terrible.

In the meantime, the Detroit Tigers were one of, if not, the hottest teams in baseball. They made the playoffs each year from 2011 to 2014. That’s including a run to the World Series in 2012, after sweeping the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series before being swept themselves by the San Francisco Giants.

My Grandpa Coop was a lifelong Tigers fan. I remember watching games on Fox Sports Detroit with Mario Impemba and Rod Allen on the call. Many summers were spent watching Detroit Tigers baseball with my Grandpa. Him yelling at the TV trying to lead the Tigers to a win made those memories so vivid, and explained why I loved baseball so much.

He passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2012, the same year the Tigers made that incredible run. My family would say that the Tigers had an “Angel in the Outfield.”

The Tigers lost that World Series in “typical Tigers’ fashion” as my Grandpa would say. That loss made me fall out of love with baseball. Not just because the team I was rooting for lost, but because I had lost hope that sports would make everything that was wrong in the world better.

This loss was crushing to me.

The Cubs were already hot going into the postseason last year. They had the best record in baseball, by far. My family would watch the playoff games, just like we did when I was younger. The Cubs won the National League Pennant while I watched from work.

The World Series began and as a family, we watched the game and the Cubs lost Game 1. They came back and won Game 2, 5-1. The series shifted back to Wrigley Field, and my family was fixated on the TV for hours while the Fall Classic pushed on.

The Cleveland Indians took two out of three games in Chicago. After a Game 5 win, the scene from Wrigley (the fans singing “Go Cubs Go” that could be heard all throughout Chicago) left me excited for Game 6, and eventually Game 7.

The Cubs won Game 7 after one of the most dramatic baseball games in recent memory. If you’ve read this far you know what happened that night…

The last out was the most special out in any baseball game because it was the out that reignited a love for a game that reminds me of my childhood. The stories of the 108-year-old lady who passed away just two weeks after the Cubs won the Series, and the man who listened to Game 7 with his father at his gravesite drove home (yes, pun intended) the level of passion and love for a game, and a team that brought me back to my childhood.

Now, as the 2017 season begins its second month, I am officially a baseball addict. I am playing catch in the yard with my brother, constantly playing baseball games on my phone, and I am also watching as much baseball as I possibly can and analyzing stats in my normal, yet different style. I can also be seen either in my Kris Bryant jersey (my favorite Cub of all time), or my lucky Cubs hat.

For the love of the game of baseball, Go Cubs Go.

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