My brief flirtation with being a baseball fan lasted through the mid- and late ’80s and into the early ’90s, right up until the ’94 strike cost us the World Series. I was all about the New York Mets, brought on by my dad being a fan, and by the beat-up paperback copy of The Year the Mets Lost Last Place I found on our bookshelf one day. But when the sport flushed its own season down the toilet, the magic was gone, and I’d never again follow the sport with the same fervor. Yet there I was into the wee hours of Thursday watching Game 7 of this year’s World Series, pulling for a team that had been a hated rival. Not because I liked the team or any of their players, but because their fans deserved it.
It’s become distressingly fashionable for internet snarks to toss around phrases like “sportsball” and “Is there some kind of sporting event tonight?” when any big game rolls around. They practically fall over themselves to be the first to express their dismissively above-it-all demeanor, all too eager to remind fans that they neither own nor play for the team, so why do they presume to share in victories and defeats?
As if the fans are somehow unaware of this fact. As if we don’t know our cheers don’t provide us ownership. As if we don’t know an athlete’s failure or success on the field impacts us not at all.
And as if any of that mattered to those Cubs fans who stood outside a stadium where no game was even taking place just to be around each other when, if that moment that hadn’t happened for 108 years came to pass. Only the coldest, most cynical of hearts could watch the outpouring of joy that ended decades of misery and insist on pointing out that those fans had won nothing, done nothing. Because they had done something. They had watched. They had waited. They had believed. And they had been at long last rewarded.
So yes, logic says those fans did nothing really. Intellectual detachment says Wednesday night was utter frivolity. But all your facts and distance pale in the face of those three magic words that bind all fans together, words that the cynics would wield with derision, but which we proudly claim as badges of honor: we, us, ours.
We win. Go us. Victory is ours.