What The 2016 Chicago Cubs Taught Us About Hope (A Guest Post by Michael Murphy)

From time to time, I like to open up The Luke Norris Experience to those who have something they want to get out to the world but just don’t have a forum to do so. Just yesterday, I wrote a piece entitled “What The Cubs Winning The World Series Means To Me“, knowing full well that there were likely many others who had probably done the same or were thinking of doing the same. As it happens, one of those people is Michael Murphy, a great friend of mine that I’ve known since high school that shares my love for the Cubs. Murph is an extremely intelligent and talented lawyer who doesn’t get to do much creative writing but just as it was with me wanted to get his thoughts on the Cubs winning the World Series out to the world. So without further ado, here they are:

Don’t ever give up on your dreams, friends.

Through failure, adversity, frustration, mediocrity, humiliation, despair, and even desperation, don’t ever give up. Why?  There are many reasons, but one of them is that the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. 

I was born in 1979 and have been a Cubs fan as long as I can remember. I never considered rooting for another team; my father raised me to be a Cubs fan. It was the only thing I ever knew.  I never questioned it. I never begrudged my father for instilling this in me. I have always been and will always be a Chicago Cubs fan.

But I was bred into a losing fandom and could only dream what it might be like if the Cubs won a championship. In 2016, the Cubs had not won the World Series in 108 years. They had not even appeared in the World Series since 1945. From 1979 to 2016, the Cubs had 25 seasons where they lost more games than they won. But I never gave up hope.

The Cubs occasionally made the postseason. They were leading the National League Championship Series (NLCS) in 1984 three games to one, lost three straight games, and lost the series to San Diego. They were tied one game to one in the 1989 NLCS, and lost three straight games to San Francisco to lose the series. I barely remember these, but I learned of them through my Cubs fandom.   Despite this knowledge, I never gave up hope.

In 1998, after winning a one-game playoff, the Cubs achieved a wild card spot in the playoffs. The Cubs were swept in three games by the Atlanta Braves. But I never gave up hope.

In 2003, the Cubs won their first postseason series since 1908, beating the Atlanta Braves in five games in the National League Division Series (NLDS).  Then, the Cubs were leading the NLCS three games to one and were five outs away from advancing to the World Series, leading three to nothing in Game 6 against Florida. They lost Game 6, lost Game 7, and lost the series. I was 24, and I vividly remember the lasting pain of the conclusion of the 2003 Cubs season. But I never gave up hope. 

The Cubs had great teams in 2007 and 2008, winning the Central Division both years to advance to the postseason. They were swept in the NLDS by Arizona in 2007 and Los Angeles in 2008. That was nine straight postseason games lost.  But I never gave up hope. 

In 2015, the Cubs advanced to the NLCS, only to be swept in four games by New York.  But I never gave up hope.  

The 2016 Cubs season was different. THESE Cubs never gave up.  They had the best record in Major League Baseball, coming from behind to win an amazing eight times when they were trailing entering the ninth inning. These Cubs were leading the NLDS two games to one, but were down by three runs after eight innings in San Francisco. They were facing a series tied at two games each and a pressure-packed elimination Game 5 back at Wrigley Field. But they did not give up hope in Game 4.  They scored four runs in the ninth inning and won the series.

These Cubs were losing the NLCS two games to one in Los Angeles, having been shutout in the past two games. But they never gave up hope.  They won three games in a row to advance to the World Series.

These Cubs were losing the World Series three games to one. But they never gave up hope.  They won Game 5 at Wrigley Field to make the series three to two, yet then faced two road games in Cleveland, with Cleveland needing only one win to eliminate the Cubs. They won Game 6 nine to three, and proceeded to the ultimate baseball game, Game 7 of the World Series.

These Cubs had a six to three lead with two outs in the eighth inning of Game 7. They allowed Cleveland to tie the game six to six in the eighth. Although they surrendered the lead when they were four outs away from finally winning a title, they never gave up hope.

These Cubs rallied to score two runs in the tenth inning of Game 7. They allowed a run to Cleveland in the bottom of the tenth, and then with two outs, Cleveland had the tying run at first base, and the winning run at the plate. But these Cubs never quit; they only needed one more out. These Cubs got the final out and won their first World Series in 108 years. 

I believed in all the Chicago Cubs teams prior to 2016, and they did not achieve the ultimate goal. But I never gave up hope and believed again in 2016. These 2016 Chicago Cubs never quit.  These Chicago Cubs never gave up hope. These Chicago Cubs accomplished the seemingly impossible by winning the World Series.  These gritty, hardworking, never say die 2016 Cubs made their dreams come true, along with the dreams of millions of dedicated and faithful Cubs fans.

The story of the Chicago Cubs and its fandom transcends baseball. Being a Cubs fan is admittedly attaching great emotion to a game one has no power to affect, and sports fandom in general is not for everyone. The story of the Chicago Cubs, however, is a source of hope for all.

The fact that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series means that anything can happen, including things that have not occurred in over a century, things very few people alive have ever seen, and things no one alive has ever seen. No matter how long and painful the failure to achieve a goal may be, never give up hope. No matter how sad, depressed, ashamed, or exasperated one feels, there is always hope. Believe in your family, your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, your fellow Americans, humankind in general and, most importantly, yourself. There is always hope.

Sometimes, or maybe many times, or perhaps over a hundred times, the goal will not be achieved. But there is always hope that a goal thought to be only a dream can be achieved. When that goal is something you were emotionally invested in and hoped would happen for a lifetime, a Cubs fan can assure you that reaching it will be an amazing experience. So, don’t ever give up on your dreams, friends.  

-Michael P. Murphy

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