This comes to us from Thomas Deatsch. 

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“Continual loss” defines my feeling every baseball season. It’s my fault. I choose to follow the Chicago Cubs. No one forces me at gunpoint to root for these loveable losers. Every fall, when the season is waning, the Cubbies not only fail to reach the World Series, but more often than not, they do not even make the playoffs. I now believe it is a “merciful impasse.” The phrases “continual loss” and “merciful impasse” not only help me understand baseball, but how life, with its many cul-de-sacs and dead-ends, can have hope and meaning.

Being a true disciple of any sports team that has a losing legacy as storied as the Chicago Cubs defies logic. There I was that first spring, sitting in my work truck on a warm, sunny day listening to the amiable and hopeful voices of Ron Santo and Pat Hughes. They pontificated on the new faces, fresh start, the good hitting, dominant pitching, and stellar defense of this unbeatable team. They hooked me with their winsome words, and “Go Cubs!” has been my cheer for 20 years now. A man of reason would have researched all the baseball teams and inevitably picked the New York Yankees or the Saint Louis Cardinals- teams with championship banners flying high in their stadiums. Alas, I chose with my heart.

It didn’t take long that first season to experience “continual loss.” During the long season, all spring and summer, the strikeouts, walks and errors began to pile up.

cubs4It wasn’t an accident that my journey with the Cubs began in my late 20s. That’s when the continual loss began to echo down the halls of my life. I hit rock bottom in high school with drugs and alcohol, had a sister committed to a group home for mental issues, and endured a string of broken relationship that created loneliness and sorrow. This never ceasing drumbeat of continual loss had me crying out with the writer of Ecclesiastes, “Surely this is also vanity and a striving after wind.” But in that wind, I heard the whispered words “merciful impasse.”

I found to my delight that there are other Cub fans that feel my pain. We mercifully share out woes. There was a laugh with Chuck, who fuels my truck, over some bungled play. Then there was Tom, the dispatcher, who always painted a rosy picture of the Cubbies, even in the bleakest losses. Myriads of Cub fans were still joyful and laughing. In the midst of all that losing. I found family.

In life, when I hit those dead-ends and gridlocks and there seemed no way out, mercy was there for me. In high school, it was the football coach, taking interest in a student like me, and creating a schedule so I could graduate. Then, there was a pastor, who ran out of the church to shake my hand and welcome me and who offered the message of mercy through Christ. But lastly, there was my wife, who knew about my screwed-up past relationships with women and my checkbook scratchings that amounted to a pile of debt. She, in mercy and love, trusted me to be her husband and to raise her six children. Ah! Sweet merciful impasse! That is why I feel like I win, even when I lose.