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FULL-COURT PRESS: Some things never change, Cubs fans

Before and after a title, team still playing with our hearts

I'll never learn.

I'll never wise up.

I know better, but I'll never change.

And if you have been a Chicago Cubs fan — a true follower that bleeds Cubbie blue — for a good amount of time, reading the following 674 or so words will not only have you shaking your head in agreement, but will also have you asking yourself, "Why is that?"

I was less than a year old, so I obviously don't remember when the 1969 Cubs let a 17 1/2-game lead over the New York Mets slip away in the final quarter of the season by going 18-27 while the Mets surged with a 38-11 mark.

I've read plenty of stories about how before the collapse, Cub fans — and rightfully so with that big of lead — everywhere felt the "Lovable Losers" were going to reach the postseason for the first time since 1945.

I did get to feel for myself the crushing "We almost had it!" pain of 1984, '89, '98, 2003, '07 and '08. I have never really considered 2015 that disappointing. I mean, many (including myself) felt the Cubs were still a few years away from finding their way past the regular season.

Then there was 2016 — enough said.

There was all the joy and fantastic feelings that came with winning 103 regular-season games, getting past the Giants (3-1 in NLDS) and Dodgers (4-2 NLCS) before reaching the World Series and then winning it. However, with that Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians, there seems to have been another layer laid on top of the yearly emotional roller-coaster ride that comes with being a Cubs follower.

In 2017, with the visions of third baseman Kris Bryant's throw to Anthony Rizzo at first to clinch the World Championship still floating in my head, the Cubs fell hard to the Dodgers in five games in the NLCS. Then there is the gut-wrenching losses at Wrigley Field to first the Brewers in Game 163 to hand them the Central Division crown, then to the Rockies in a "You ripped my heart out of my chest," 1-0, 13-inning wild card game a year ago.

Typing (or for you reading) the last couple of paragraphs (other than the 2016 part) are enough to make me (you too, I'm guessing) reevaluate why we love the boys in blue pinstripes so much.

This season ... wow, just wow.

The Cubs' play on the field, like my feeling towards their chances to reach that final series again, has been in limbo for most of the year. The 2019 Northsiders have been like a man trapped in the middle of the desert, walking through the unbearable heat, holding a bottle of water the whole time, but unable to figure out how to open it.

I'm not sure if this is a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty thought, but I'm not that interested seeing the Cubs play well enough to reach the postseason and then play the "wait 'til next year" card after losing a wild card game or getting swept in a series.

As I wrote up my account of Thursday night's Marquette/Seneca volleyball match at the office, I had one eye on the final few innings of the Cubs/Cardinals game as well.

Talk about a microcosm of emotions that Cubbie fans know and deal with in the final inning and a half.

I watched (I have to admit with utter surprise, remember I've been here before) as the Cubs — down 4-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first of a four-game series — rallied to tie the game with a trio of runs in the bottom of the ninth. Then I watched as the Cards' Matt Carpenter blasted a one-out home run to center off just-back-from-the-injured-list Craig Kimbrel. Mercifully, and without any more theatrics, the Cubs went quietly 1-2-3 in their half of the 10th, and lost in nine Friday.

What will the next games against the Cardinals at Wrigley bring? Where will next week's trips to Pittsburgh and St. Louis leave the Cubs?

We'll see.

But one thing is for sure, I'll be holding out hope like always that they'll find a way to win.

It's what I do. I'm a Cubs fan.

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