Living in a nursing home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, 82-year-old Edith Heath knows something about faith. As a fan of the Chicago Cubs who was born 25 years after her favorite team last won the World Series, she knows there are only so many times she can get her hopes up only to be disappointed. So this year is it. "I'll give up if they don't win this year," Heath said Thursday in the lobby of the nursing home about a mile from Wrigley Field. "If they don't do it, I wouldn't want to even hear their name. I would just say I've had it." Winning it all has been a goal of the Cubs for a long, long time, of course. Their World Series drought dates to 1908, one of the longest in sports history, and there has been more heartbreak along the way than Heath or any other Cubs fan would care to remember. But this year has a different feel to it, including a new owner, new front office personnel, and more young talent.
There is a bona fide Cy Young candidate in ace Jake Arrieta, a possible rookie of the year in Kris Bryant, and maybe the league's best manager in Joe Maddon. So when the Cubs beat Pittsburgh in the wild card game Wednesday night, there were celebrations—but also a sense of more to come. Next up is the National League Division Series against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. Over the next several days, plenty of twentysomething fans will proudly say they have waited their whole lives for the Cubs to win it all. But for those whose love affair with the Cubs started well before Steve Bartman was born, this playoff run brings with it feelings that fans who don't remember Wrigley without lights or recall days when ladies got in free can't possibly understand. "It's time for our hopes to come true," 81-year-old Margaret Bailey said at a community pool near Wrigley, just before her older friend Loretta Czyskewski added: "While we can still enjoy it." Click for more thoughts and worries from the team's oldest fans. (Read more Chicago Cubs stories.)