10/12/2003 2:04 AM ET
Gonna party like it's 1945?
Cubs fans eager for first World Series visit in 58 years
MIAMI -- According to an unofficial MLB.com exit poll of Cubs fans at Pro Player Stadium, the world is indeed on the brink of ending, but many in the flock are too mindful of the past to even think about getting ahead of themselves.
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
"Right now it's like you don't want to wake up from the best dream you ever had," said Bob Hart, now a bar owner across the state in Sarasota, Fla. "I was an usher at Wrigley back in '85, and I saw some ugly baseball. We're close and I'm ready. We knew pitching would carry this team but I don't think anyone expected this kind of offense."
The Cubs lead the Marlins in the National League Championship Series, 3-1, and Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. Ryan Bargnes, who drove with his brother Guy and their friend Julie Murray from Chicago to Milwaukee and then took a connecting flight to Minnesota to get here, said he can feel the long-awaited moment within his grasp.
"I'm pretty confident," Bargnes said. "If we don't win this last one here, then you know we are going to at least take one of those two back at Wrigley with (Mark) Prior and maybe (Kerry) Wood if he has to pitch. No way we lose three in a row."
John Hansen is a police officer from Rosemont, Ill., and you can count him among those taking it pitch-by-pitch and game-by-game.
"I'm excited, but I don't count these (Marlins) out until it's over," Hansen said. "I was at Wrigley for Game 1, and I saw what they did. You want to stay reserved. I'm just afraid (the Marlins) will come back because we're the Chicago Cubs. I'm confident of our team, but not overly excited until we get the last out."
John Stair, who flew to Miami from Chicago on Thursday with brother Joe, said right after Saturday's final out, "We haven't won anything yet. I'm too scared. We were on the brink in '84, when Lee Smith was pitching to Steve Garvey and Garvey hit one over the wall (for San Diego). I was in high school, and I remember that we were up two games to nothing when it happened. They beat us in three straight."
Roger Shiffman of Chicago had no such reservations: "I'm past that." Ditto many other fans streaming out of the park amid their new teal-clad friends.
John Borovica lives three blocks from Wrigley, and when asked if it the realization has sunk in that the Cubs could be within 24 hours of their first World Series qualification since 1945, he said, "From your lips to God's ears."
"Hey, 1945 was a long time before most of us were born," he said. "So this is really exciting. I watched the 1986 World Series, and saw what the Red Sox went through. You can't count on anything yet. But we're here. A few of us decided we'd see what happens in person, so we got up at 4 this morning (Saturday), drove to Milwaukee, got a flight through Detroit, and showed up today. Hopefully we won't miss work."
Do Cubs fans actually get any work done these days? Sometimes you have to wonder; they are in big numbers here, on South Beach, in the hotels, at the games, and it does not seem to matter whether it is a weekday or weekend game. Borovica responded to that question by trying his best to recall verbatim of the infamous 1983 rant by then-Cubs manager Lee Elia, who made reference to "15 (bleeping) percent that come out to day baseball. The other eighty-five percent are earning a living."
One Cubs fan from Orlando named Dave was asked by MLB.com to spell his last name. "That's S-E-A-V-E-R," he said. "Just like the guy who won a World Series. We'll be there shortly ourselves."
Tom Koubek also is from Orlando and was brought here as a gift from his daughter, Tracy. "I'm going to Chicago, I don't care what it takes," he said. "You've got a team that's just jelled. They have come together, and we're a game away from the World Series."
That's not something you hear a Cub fan say every day.
Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.