David Hein is an international basketball and sports writer/reporter based in Regensburg, Germany, and a featured columnist with FIBA basketball (among other outlets) and owns/operates heinnews. An Illinois native and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, David will be chronicling his 7,000 mile journey from Germany to the World Series, one game at a time. Connect with David Hein on Twitter.
Munich Airport, Terminal 1, Monday October 24: Waiting for my flight to Amsterdam and then the connecting flight to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Many of my friends think it’s crazy. One even used the word insane.
My response: A promise is a promise.
While businessmen race to their gate and families cuddle before their flight to their loved ones around Europe, my time in Munich is filled with anticipation that few here could even start to understand. My trip back to my original stomping grounds is not because of a death in the family or to finally see the baby nephew or so.
This trip is about my biggest passion – the Chicago Cubs.All Cubs fans have their stories. I wasn’t born until 1974 so I never experienced 1969. We actually watched all those great home runs of Game 1 of the 1984 NLCS in school. Will Clark killed the Cubs in 1989. And of course there was the 8th inning of Game 6 in 2003.
By the time Bartman happened I had already re-located my life to Germany and my love affair with the Cubs was drastically reduced to a seldom long distance fling. Another team of any other sport never stood a chance in my soul though. I bled only Cubbie blue.
I remember coming home from school and watching the Cubs on the small black-and-white TV in the kitchen, knowing I wouldn’t have to move from the color television in the living room if an older brother or one of my parents wanted to watch something else. I can remember imitating the batting stances and fielding moves of my favorite Cubs.
This was my only love in sports.
The distance took it away for some time but with the advancement in media and the internet, I re-found my love in the middle 2000s. And those Cubs teams in 2007 and 2008 rekindled all those memories. Two playoff sweeps in the first round of the playoff left me longing for more.
Some time in the next year or so I spoke out my promise for the first time — if the Cubs make the World Series I will fly back to Chicago to experience it all.
Of course those lean 100-loss years were hard to take. The motto for me was: In Theo We Trust. You saw the losses – and the losses and the losses. But you saw the trades of short-term assets for long term. There was the ability to spot low-cost guys and sell high on them for prospects.
Things were slowly coming together and I told people in 2014 it was a good chance to jump back on the bandwagon early if you had gotten off. Of course 2015 was magical. It all happened earlier than I had hoped or expected. Wild card win (sorry Pirates fans) and then beating the Cardinals. THAT was the World Series for me. Those dreaded Cardinals. I had feared the Mets’ great arms would mean the end but never did I think it would be a sweep.
A new year in 2016 and a new expectation – as favorites to WIN the World Series.
All season I had the promise in the back of my mind.
But something was bound to happen that would stop the unthinkable – there was 1969, 1984, 1989, 2003 and 2015. Cubs fans are scared to even mention the word jinx so I really didn’t want to make plans. Only after beating the Giants did I start mentioning to friends and family back in the Chicago area that I would be coming if they got to the World Series. It was clear that Games 3,4 and 5 would be in Chicago but few of my loved ones live in the city – all of them were in the suburbs. Who would I stay with and when?
Don’t jinx it I thought and stopped thinking about it then.
The Dodgers led 2-1 and I was happy that I didn’t go too far with my plans. But wins in Games 4 and 5 meant one more victory and I would be flying to Chicago – to see the Cubs in a World Series.Even though money is tight, the flight prices were not too outrageous since it was out of season.
After Game 6, I shed a lot of tears of joy. While I was alone in my living room at about 5am I was thinking about all those Cubs fans who also suffered and never saw them make the World Series. I recalled all those moments of watching and rooting for the Cubs – win or lose. They were my only team. They gave me so much happiness and sorrow and now there was this high.
It was so relieving waking up Sunday morning and realizing it was not just a dream. The Cubs had in fact made the World Series.
Sunday was spent booking flights, packing and texting and calling friends and family. The trip is not planned other than I know I will not see any of the games in Wrigley – there are way too many people with so much more money than me. But I need to be there. I need to experience the city during a World Series. I need to share my Cubs love with others. Of course I hope they win it all and we can finally stop hearing 1908. And I will be very disappointed if the Cleveland Indians snatch the title and finish their own magical run. But they did it! The Cubs are in the World Series and one curse is ended.
Now it’s time to make good on that promise.
Chicago, I CANNOT wait to see you!