Wrigley Field is 100 years old this year and has been the Cubs’ home for over 7500 games. 14 years after it was built, a groundskeeper planted ivy in the outfield. Three years later, the scoreboard was installed. The marquee went up three years after that. Lights went up in 1988. In 2014, the Friendly Confines might see the worst Cubs team ever made. The Cubs are going to honor their home with one loss for each year it has been standing.

The 2013 team was the fourth worst in the majors, 2012’s was the second worst, and management has made no effort whatsoever to improve on the last two seasons in the majors. John Baker, Emilio Bonifacio, and Jason Hammel were brought in this offseason “to make things better”. On what planet do John Baker, Emilio Bonifacio, and Jason Hammel make things better?

The Cubs two star players don’t help things either: Ace Jeff Samardzija will be traded by midseason, and Starlin Castro daydreams while playing shortstop, making him commit more errors than any other NL shortstop for three years straight.

As bad as this Cubs team is and as empty as the seats are, the Cubs could not have showed up to Wrigley’s birthday party with a more perfect gift.

Wrigley Field is a baseball mortuary, never seeing a World Series victory. It got close in 1932, when the Cubs fell to the Yankees in the World Series after Babe Ruth called his shot. It got closer in 1945, when the Cubs lost to Tigers in 7. In 1969, the Cubs gave a new meaning to the word ‘collapse’, losing a 9-½ game lead in mid-August to miss the playoffs entirely. In the game five of the best of five 1984 NLCS, the Cubs lost a three-run lead to send the Padres to the World Series. But no loss is harder to swallow than game 6 of the 2003 NLCS when Steve Bartman reached over Moises Alou’s glove and ended the World Series dreams.

I was going to get a picture of Steve Bartman but looking at them made me gag.
I was going to get a picture of Steve Bartman but looking at them made me gag.

The Bartman incident is my earliest memory. My whole family gathered around the TV wearing Cubbie blue, and by the end of the 7th inning stretch, it seemed like the Cubs were finally going to do it, so my dad got some champagne out. A few minutes later, the room that had been buzzing was dead. I was nauseous. My dad broke the silence: “Joe, where’s your jersey?”

I had worn my Kerry Wood jersey to watch every game of the 2003 season, and I never washed it once. Well, I wore it to every game, except game 6. After Bartman interfered with that foul ball, my dad and I tore up the house, searching everywhere until we found it sitting in the washing machine white as the day it was made, not a mustard stain in sight. We looked at each other, and although no words were said, we both knew exactly what Bartman and the blindingly white jersey meant: it was over.

Dad put the champagne away.

I still feel partially responsible for the 2003 loss. WHY WAS THE JERSEY WASHED?
I still feel partially responsible for the 2003 loss. WHY WAS THE JERSEY WASHED? WHY?!?

Cubs’ fans are notorious for saying, “there’s always next year”, but we don’t actually say that. We know not to kid ourselves. We know how painful it can be to invest ourselves in the Cubs. We know we’re guaranteed disappointment time after time. That’s why, when I was a third grader and realized the daunting task of talking to my first crush, I told my dad “I’m glad I’m a Cubs fan. If a girl dumps me, it’ll be just like watching the Cubs.”

But this year there won’t be frustration, and the season won’t end next to a washing machine searching for a jersey. Wrigley understands the team on the field won’t be competitive, but it also knows that in four years, Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler will be fighting deep into the playoffs in a renovated stadium. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know how to construct a winner. The Rickett family is willing to pay for it.

Theo and Jed provided Wrigley a gift it hardly knows: real, true hope.

And that’s better than any team t1he stadium has ever housed.

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