Baseball season has begun, and I’m anxious to see if my team can do a repeat of the 2016 season. I am a diehard Chicago Cubs fan. In fact, I usually tell people I was born a Cubs fan. I’ve never been ashamed to claim them as my own, no matter how many losing seasons they had or how close they came to getting the job done. Even when I came face to face with a disgusted look preceding the incredulous question, “Why,” I stayed true to the Cubbies. The hard time came when they went up against the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series. Why? Because I live near Cleveland, and my Indians friends did not take it easy on me. I’ll admit it. I returned the smack talk. As I followed the Cubs and Indians through the 2016 postseason and World Series, I observed four things we can learn from baseball teams and their fans.
Despite the century long drought the Cubs suffered in the life of their ball club, their fans never wavered in their loyalty. And I don’t think this is exclusive of Cubs fans. I’ve seen it over the years with Indians fans who have experienced their own drought. I saw it with Red Sox fans when I lived in New England. Loyalty is a good characteristic to have, whether it’s for your favorite sports team or a job or a friend. The heart of loyalty is being faithful through thick and thin. Through the good and bad.
Never lose hope. Whatever we face in life, good or bad, we can have hope. Cubs fans, and Indians fans alike, never lost their hope. When their team failed to get to the Fall Classic, they proclaimed the mantra, “There’s always next year.” And next year always came with a renewed hope and effort. When the Indians were up 3 games to 1 in the Series, the Cubs didn’t lose their hope to come back. When the Indians were down 6-3 in the bottom of the 7th inning of Game 7, they didn’t give up hope. When Game 7 was tied in the 8th inning interrupted by a rain delay, neither team gave up hope.
The dictionary describes hope as, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” What hopes do you have for your life? Whatever they are, don’t give up hope.
I’ve heard some say they can’t stand baseball, because it’s like watching paint dry. Yes, that can be true at times. However, when attending a live game or watching it with friends on TV, it has a whole new dynamic. Even if the home team is losing, the fans have fun spending time with each other. Memories are made no matter the outcome of the game. I had a few of my Indians friends over for one of the World Series games. It was my own version of a Super Bowl party. While my team lost that particular game, it was a fun night of friendly banter and tons of laughter.
Years ago, a friend handed me an envelope and said, “This is to write a wrong.” At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. Then I opened the envelope. It contained four tickets to a Red Sox/Yankees game at Fenway Park. A few weeks prior, we had a conversation when I admitted I had never been to a professional baseball game. That’s right. I grew up a Cubs fan in Illinois and never made it to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. It’s sad, I know. Even though I wasn’t a fan of either team playing at Fenway, I rounded up some friends and had a blast at my first big game.
It doesn’t matter whether your team is winning or losing, fun is at the center. Enjoy time with your friends and family. Even if life is throwing a curve ball your way, find the positive and enjoy life.
Determination & Perseverance
During the 2016 Series, I noticed determination in both teams. Neither the Cubs nor the Indians were going down without a fight. Each one of the seven games, the players pushed through and persevered. Sure, one team had to lose at the end of each game, but each one was determined to do their best to win the game.
There may be times when we feel like an opposing team is trying to beat us down. When that happens, push through and fight back. We may lose that particular game or battle, but there will always be battles in life that we will win. If we’re determined to persevere.
Baseball is my favorite sport; and it doesn’t matter who’s playing, I’ll go to a game and cheer on the home team. I still haven’t made it for a game at Wrigley, but I have seen the Cubs play the Indians twice in Cleveland. After this last Thanksgiving, though, I can at least say I’ve been to Wrigley. I took a detour on my way to Minnesota and stopped by for a quick visit. I felt like a kid going to my first ball game. It was hard to maneuver my car through the narrow streets when all I wanted to do was look at the park while jumping up and down in my seat. Maybe that’s the main lesson to learn from baseball: become like a kid and enjoy the moment.
Do you have a favorite team? What lessons have you learned from watching them?