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I've Waited 17 Years For The Cubs To Play The Marlins In The Playoffs Again

What a magical ride 2003 was as a Cubs fan. 

Dusty Baker coming in and righting the ship. Prior, Wood shoving. The trade for Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez and even Randall Simon. Santo's reaction to winning the division on a chilly September day at Wrigley against the Pirates. 

I was 10 years old. It was the year I got to go to Wrigley for the first time for my birthday. Pops took me and we sat down the right field line to see Sammy sprint out one time before he got thrown out in the bottom of the 1st for arguing a strikeout call (it was way outside) against the Cardinals. 

Could this be the year? To a 10 year old absolutely. Especially after going on the road in Game 5 to clinch a trip to the NLCS over the Braves and taking a 3-2 lead coming back to Wrigley

"We'll see" said my pops with a cautious smile. 

He'd been there before. He wasn't alive in '69. He was very much alive and unfortunately aware for the blown NLCS in 1984 and that ground ball through Leon Durham's legs. Same for all the losing that came after that. 

But 2003 felt different. They weren't on the road. They were at Wrigley. They had Mark Prior going. And even if worse came to worse they had Kerry Wood going in Game 7 at Wrigley, too. 

What comes next you know. We all know.

"YOU'RE A BANDWAGON, JOEY!!!!!" says the angry commenter mad about the teams I root for for some reason. 

Tell that to the 10 year old kid wearing the same mesh trucker Cubs hat and Sammy Sosa jersey he had been wearing every game of the playoffs devastated for the first time really feeling what it was like back then to be a Cubs fan. 

You don't forget that. 

You don't forget desperately clinging to every pitch even though you know the game, the series, the dream is over when it was so damn close. 

You don't forget being down 9-6 with two outs in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 as a silent Wrigley Field watches on praying to god that Paul Bako can somehow start a rally. 

You don't forget that lazy fly ball off the bat hanging in the air while Jeff Conine camps underneath and your heart is just ripped outta your chest watching the ball fall into his glove. 

It doesn't leave you. It still sucks. 

But now is time for redemption. All that is forgiven, the slate has been wiped clean, the boys finally did it. Now it's time to send the Marlins packing in hopefully a much less dramatic fashion. 

We've waited 17 years to play the Marlins at Wrigley Field in the postseason again. 

Let's Go Cubs.