Are you happy Cubs fans? Are you proud of yourselves? Because this one's on you.
With a team that hadn't won a World Series in a century, Cubs fans and the media have been acting as if there were no doubt that this was the year the North Siders would finally break through. The attitude had become less of a hope than an apparent certainty, best summed up by the fans' adopted slogan: It's Gonna Happen.
Not, "Believe," or "Maybe This Year?" It's Gonna Happen. What an arrogant theme to adopt. Did we feel as though we were owed something, as if there were no possible way the Baseball Gods would let this thing stretch to triple digits?
The superciliousness continued to mount in the weeks before the playoffs. Sports Illustrated decided it would be a fantastic idea to put the Cubs on their jinxed cover and write an eight-page (eight page!) article all about why the Cubs could not lose this year.
I wanted to tear the magazine up. And it wasn't just Gary Smith's writing: the article quoted numerous Cubs fans who just couldn't contain themselves, talking about how there was no way this team could be beaten.
ESPN.com followed suit with a long feature by Jayson Stark detailing all the reasons the Cubs had it locked up. Bleacher Report itself was a perfect example, as the Cubs community was littered with "Top 10 Reasons This is the Cubs' Year" articles.
Have we not been humbled by the past 100 years? After declaring that our team had been done away by a billy goat, a black cat, and a Bartman, we didn't give any consideration to the idea that maybe we, too, could have an effect?
There was nothing wrong with believing the Cubs could win this year. Without hope like that, there's no point in even being a fan. But we took it to the next level. We got arrogant. We decided that not only would this have to be the year, but we had to crow about it before it even happened.
Did anyone else catch the guy sitting behind home plate at Wrigley, wearing a customized Cubs jersey with "History 08" as the name and number? He summed up the fans' attitude perfectly: Not only were we going to win this year, we were going to call our shot. The team that was oh-for-100 was pointing to center field, the irony of Babe Ruth's called shot at Wrigley lost on us all.
That's hubris, my friends. That's arrogance. Pride comes before the fall, and as Cubs fans, we had no reason to be anything but humble this year. You don't taunt the Baseball Gods when they've already shown their wrath before. No, you walk softly with your head down, you don't guarantee anything, and you celebrate when it's over.
We've had good teams before, and we've seen them get closer than a divisional series before being humiliated.
And humiliated is exactly what I was again last night, as the mighty Cubs, the team that had to win it all, were swept out in the first round once more.
It's easy to say that the players were the culprits again this year, choking away the games with stranded baserunners and untimely errors. Heck, Alfonso Soriano is now batting about .012 as a Cub in the playoffs. But just because there was no Bartman this year, no literal fan interference, don't believe for a second that we didn't blow this thing. The Baseball Gods aren't always so blunt.
That "History 08" jersey now feels more like a personal slap in the face from the hardball deities, doesn't it?
So let's not tempt them again, fellow Cubs fans. Let's wait 'til next year, and let's keep filling the bleachers and cheering. Let's knock off the booing of our own guys (when did that start?), the ugliest sign of our championship greed. The Cubs are going to be good again next year, so it'll be easy to slip back into this arrogant state of mind. But let's not forget who they are, and who we are, along the way.
Maybe Next Year?