It’s been just over 10 years since I penned my first piece here at Cubbies Crib, a recap of a Brooks Raley start against the Rockies the Cubs lost, 4-3. That milestone – a full decade here with FanSided – coincided almost perfectly with this piece, my 3,000th since coming aboard back in 2012.
To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about myself in 2012. I was heading into my senior year of college, ready to graduate early and head out into the real world. Now, I’m 31, married with a baby on the way before year’s end. While life, as a whole, is immeasurably different than it was back then, the one constant through the years has been the Cubs.
If you’ll remember, 2012 wasn’t exactly a season worth remembering – at least not for good reasons. For just the third time ever, the Cubs lost more than 100 games, going 61-101 as the tank job continued under the Theo Epstein regime. Thankfully, that marked the bottom and, from there, we started the climb to the top of the baseball world.
I’ll never forget being in Wrigleyville during the 2015 NLDS, watching the Cubs knock out the Cardinals, a team we’d been chasing for what felt like my entire lifetime. The very next year, of course, was transformational for any Cubs fan – but for me, that rang even more true.
After knowing one another since high school, my now-wife and I started dating in 2014, with our first date taking place at – you guessed it – Wrigley Field. After buying the cheapest tickets we could the night prior, we were nestled in the highest reaches of the upper deck, when a fan services ambassador approached, told us to follow him and proceeded to seat us behind the first base dugout as a sponsor’s fans of the game.
We took it right then and there as a sign of good things to come.
Two years later, with the Cubs running away with the division, we tied the knot in early Sept. 2016. A month later, we were – like many of you – glued to our television, steering way too hard into superstition in hopes it would help end a 108-year drought. (For what it’s worth – and my brother-in-law can attest, saying you’ll take a shot for every run your team scored during Game 6 was wildly ill-advised. But, hey, we got the dub and forced Game 7, right?)
Of course, we were there – the three of us – in the second row along the parade route, when 6,000,000 jubilant Cubs fans flocked to Chicago to celebrate history. We were also together in the car sitting for hours on end, trying to get out of the city that afternoon – but let me tell you. I wouldn’t trade that day for anything.
For much of my time here, I worked side-by-side with my good friend Nick Blazek, helping put the site on the map in the Cubs blogosphere. Then, one day, he was taken to the hospital – and found out he had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. But, in typical Nick fashion, he’s continued to defy the odds – and here we are, years later, and he’s still battling every day. When I went down to see him earlier this year, we found a random Friday afternoon game at Wrigley from 2016 and watched together and, if only just for a couple hours, everything felt like it once did.
This year, we unexpectedly lost my father at just 55 years old. I’m not going to tell you that baseball fixes losing your dad, because it doesn’t. But what I can tell you is that the last time I saw him, he came over for Father’s Day and, after learning we were expecting a baby girl, for the first time that I can recall, we sat and watched an entire ballgame together.
That might not seem significant to those of you who grew up watching games with your old man – but this was a rarity for me. Dad was always working late, trying to make ends meet, or working on something in the house or yard, hoping to avoid those unexpected bills that come with calling someone in to fix a problem. For him to stop and sit down just never happened (a trait that, as my wife reminds me, lives on in me) – and to say I’ll always cherish that Sunday afternoon on the porch watching the game is an understatement, to say the least.
The game of baseball – particularly the Cubs – have been such an integral piece of my life over the years, going all the way back to watching, laying on my stomach on grandma’s living room floor as a kid. Sometimes taking center stage, often in the background, it’s always been there – during the highest and highs and lowest of lows. Hitting this milestone means a lot to me, because it’s prompted me to take pause, reflect and appreciate everything that’s happened over the last 10 years – the good and the bad. Here’s to 3,000 more.