After months of hype following the Chicago Cubs, we are now just hours away from the start of the 2016 season. It’s hard to believe that it was more than five months ago that the Cubs finished their incredible 2015 run that fell just short of a pennant. For me, this offseason has gone by faster, by far, than any other offseason that I can remember in over 20 years of being a fan.
2015 was the most memorable season I have ever experienced. There have been many times this winter that I wished I could go back in time and witness some of those great moments once more. I think I’ve watched this video at least a few dozen times since October:
That’s the thing about great moments, not just in baseball, but in any area of life: You only get to live them once. After that, all you can do is play them again in your mind (or watch an online video and imagine you’re there again). I guess I’ve been watching that video so much because it’s been hard for me to come to terms with the fact that the amazing 2015 season is really over.
The arrival of the 2016 season is allowing me to finally move on from 2015 and get excited for all the great memories I hope to make following the team this year. Last year, especially when the Cubs got hot in the second half, one of my biggest struggles was to savor every great win and not think ahead to the inevitable one-game Wild Card play-in. That cloud was hanging over me the entire time, making me feel like this great run would all be for nothing if they were to lose that one game in October (though they did eventually win it).
Right now, Cubs Fever is stronger than I can ever remember. I was at the Cubs Convention in January and could feel the passion everywhere I went. Though the previous season ended with a loss in the National League Championship Series, there was hope that with all the young talent, plus the big free agent signings, the Cubs are in great position to make it that far again and this time win the last eight games needed to earn a championship.
But winning the World Series is a difficult and rare achievement. Everyone and their mother is picking the Cubs to, if not win it all, at least be among the favorites this year. And while I’m happy we have so much reason to be optimistic, it also makes me a little nervous. I don’t want to go into this season feeling entitled to anything. We still have to play the season out.
Winning a championship isn’t just about October. It’s about the long journey it takes to get there, the journey we are about to start. It will be difficult, but I am going to try not to think about what might happen in the playoffs throughout the year. To get to the postseason, you have to have a great regular season first. That’s as much a part of the story as anything.
Will it be a disappointment if this season ends in any way other than the Cubs celebrating a World Series victory? Well, it probably will. But so is every other year. The difference is that expectations are so high this time. Don’t let that ruin the fun we have from watching the game we enjoy so much and cheering on our favorite team.
It’s April now, but before we know it, whether the Cubs have a successful year or not, the season will be over. In the meantime, stay optimistic and hopeful that this will be the year we’ve all been waiting for. Have fun, fellow Cubs fans, and enjoy the 2016 season.