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Making Cubs fans believe their team won the World Series

April 23, 2012

The last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series was in 1906, 106 baseball seasons ago. No living Cubs fan remembers the Chicago Cubs as a World Champion. There’s a chance none of their fathers or their grandfathers remember the Cubs as a World Champion. It’s the longest title drought in the history of American professional sports. If you’re not a Cubs fan, it’s hard to understand the angst the goes along with being a fan, or to understand what it would feel like to be there when they do win.

Unlike the Red Sox, who finally ended their 86-year drought in 2004, the Cubs haven’t had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. The closest they’ve come is when Steve Bartman maybe interfered with a foul ball in the 2003 League Championship Series–and that wasn’t to win the World Series, it was just to get there. The fact that the Cubs bullpen gave up six runs after the supposed interference doesn’t seem to erase Bartman’s demon status.

The MLB12 commercial above comes close. It captures the longing, the scenes of other championships overlaid with Chicago, the burning need to imagine and then live what it would be like to be there when the Cubs celebrate the title.

The commercial illustrates a desire for something unattainable, and shows what it would be like to attain that desire. It shows the emotions in a real, tangible way. If you’re a Cubs fan, you probably can’t help watching that spot without boarding an emotional roller coaster, as you allow yourself to imagine, then realize it’s just not true–and may not be for years.

It’s visceral.

It’s what we need to be able to do as writers. Provide a character readers can emotionally identify with. Stack the odds against them–and what odds are greater than those of a Cubs fan? Then deliver what they want most in a way that makes the reader feel along with the protagonist. When done well, it makes Cubs fans fleetingly feel like they’re celebrating a World Series winner.

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One Comment
  1. April 23, 2012 10:42 am

    I feel your pain. Go Seattle Mariners!

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