What If?

Could we handle this in October? I’m not so sure.
Tribune photo by Phil Velasquez / June 20, 2008

Every year. Every single year at some point I imagine what it would be like for the Cubs to win it all. This year of all years it seems stupid, because I never had a legitimate right to imagine such a thing in 2009. Still, I’m doing it now. What would it be like to cheer with gusto in late October for the only team that could make me mean it?

One of the questions forced upon Cub fans this season, juxtaposed against consecutive division championships and the subsequent NLDS sweeps, was the hypothetical quandary of would you rather—advance to the postseason only to have your dreams summarily dashed by the NL West, or wallow through a puddle of disappointment and underperformance? Up until this moment, I’ve wavered back and forth between longing for the acute, piercing pain of playoff horror and acceptance of the dull, chronic ache of mediocrity. But today it hit me: I can deal with this.

Last year at this time (and in 2007, 2003, 1998, 1989, and 1984) I was in serious emotional anguish. You know, the Cubs part of me—let’s not confuse Cubbie woes with real problems. Anyway, as I get ready for the World Series to commence, I’m suddenly aware of how little I care and how perfectly comfortable that feels. I don’t care because the Cubs aren’t in it. I can think clearly (for me). My heart rate isn’t racing into the mid-to-upper 200s. I’m not swearing at my TV. My furniture isn’t in danger of being pummeled. I don’t have James Ingram on repeat. It’s . . . nice.

If the Cubs were in this, I would be excited. Happy even. But make no mistake, the next week would hold the potential to send me into a catatonic state. 2003 nearly ended me, and I’m not talking about Bartman. Game 1 of the NLCS made me so over-the-edge angry, I didn’t even cheer when Sosa’s homer sent the game to extras. I had nothing left in my emotional reserve by the time games 6 and 7 rolled around.

I try to fool myself into thinking a World Series would be different, that I’d be so happy to see the Cubs there I wouldn’t really care if they won or lost. But that’s a lie from hell. A World Series loss might very well kill me.

So as much as I’d love to see the Cubs in the Phillies’ place right now, it’s probably for the best that they’re not. When they finally do advance to the Series, I need to make sure my affairs are in order, just in case. Update the will. Write out an obit. Reevaluate our choice of godparents. Make amends with those I’ve hurt or who have hurt me. And I’d have to finish up all my jobs or at least arrange for a backup in the event of my demise. Then I’d be ready.

For now, bring on the Yawnees and the Pheelnothings. I couldn’t care less, and for that I’m thankful.

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