Back in 1984, the Cubs got into the playoffs against the San Diego Padres. It was a huge deal, the first time the Cubs had even made it into just the post-season on 39 years. In a best of 5 series, they took the first two games in Chicago. Some friends and I were able to get tickets for all three games in San Diego (if they were necessary -- after all, they only had to win one...), and we drove down from Los Angeles. The tickets were great, somewhat behind home plate, thanks to a contact at NBC which was broadcasting the series. The Cubs lost that first away game, and we drove back to L.A. Then we drove down again for the next game -- which they lost again, and we drove back afterwards to Los Angeles. And once more we drove down to San Diego for the final game...which again the Cubs famously lost when a ground ball went through the legs of first baseman Leon Durham.
(A dark joke later made the rounds in Chicago. "Did you hear that Leon Durham committed suicide? He threw himself under a bus -- but it went through his legs.")
As the San Diego fans filling their stadium erupted in riotous cheers (not knowing yet that they would end up losing in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers), our group slowly headed up the stairs in our Cubs caps and t-shirts, with everyone going wild around us. And we made our way into the parking lot -- where the celebrating was continuing. Shouting, cheering, cars honking. And at one point, a car came driving by with a Padres fan leaning out the window in delirium. He saw us walking along, and in such an oh-so-generous way screamed out, "HEY, CUBS FANS!!! You're going to have to wait ANOTHER 39 years!!!!!!"
It's common that when such a moment happens, you don't think of the right thing to reply until the moment has passed. And then it's too late. This time though, happily, for some reason, I actually had a response at the ready. "And if we have to," I called back, "we will."
I am pleased to say that Cubs fans didn't have to wait that full 39 more years. It was only 32 years...
We waited. And we won.