SI Vault
September 26, 2011
Another lost autumn on the North Side of Chicago—this will make 66 straight World Series without the company of the Cubs—and fans handle their agony in different ways. Comedian Jeff Garlin swears a lot. ("This is my least favorite f------ Cubs team," he says.) Actor Joe Mantegna drops all pretense of hope. ("I still love 'em, but I'll never invest in them again," he says. "They'll kill ya.") Other Cubs fans offer their own variations on the theme.
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September 26, 2011

It Takes A Village

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Hirschtick has tried to explain baseball to people in the village, he says, but they do not follow. He's given them Cubs shirts, which they wear happily. "They think it's a religion," he says. "They think I'm praying to the god of the big red C."

In that, they're not far off. Every day (late night for day games; Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Chicago) Hirschtick watches his Cubs over the Internet. He rarely misses a game.

Against the Reds last week the Cubs took a 4--0 lead, blew it, scored two to tie it in the ninth and lost in extra innings. To Hirschtick, that's Cubs baseball. "When I was working, I enjoyed what I did most of the time," he says, "but there was plenty of drudgery and bull----. Now there's no drudgery. Watching the Cubs take the lead, blow the lead, come back, lose—it's aliveness."

And if the Cubs ever won it all? Hirschtick was born less than a year after the Cubs' last World Series appearance, in 1945. "I hope to see them win in my lifetime," he says, "but if they don't, that will give my daughter [Corie Henson, 38] a reason to keep on living. It's a virus, this Cubs thing. A virus. But for me, it's a virus of joy."

I tell Hirschtick again that he sounds like an optimist. He laughs and says, "I'm no optimist. I know the Cubs won't win. I'm not a fool." But then he sheepishly admits something. The Cubs raise a w flag every time they win, so that people in the elevated train will know about it. (The Cubs also raise an l flag after losses.) Well, Steve Hirschtick brought two Chicago Cubs w flags to this remote part of Thailand to raise on his old flagpole. Why two? He felt sure the first w flag would wear out after a while. And that, friends, is the very definition of an optimistic Cubs fan.

Follow @JPosnanski

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