October 22, 2012 was an ordinary autumn day in the suburbs of Chicago, with all the smells and colors and strange weather patterns that are typical in the Midwest during the fall. It also happened to be Game 7 of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. Being the self-respecting Cubs fan that I am, deciding which team to root for was easy. The San Francisco Giants were up against the ultimate evil and had one last chance to destroy them for good.


Leading up to this game, the sting of the Cardinals victory in Atlanta and the unbelievable comeback in the Division Series against the Nationals was all too real. Memories of the infamous Game 6 of the 2011 World Series flooded my memory. It was up to Matt Cain, Buster Posey, and the former Cubs Theriot and Pagan to avenge me and quell the suffering of us Cubs fans, at least for a few moments.


During this game, the state of my mental health altered with each movement made on the field. A deep fly ball to right center? Panic. Fastball down the gut? Better be a strike. Hard grounder to short? YOU BETTER MAKE THAT PLAY, CRAWFORD!


My roommates threatened to send me to the mental health center that is located just down the street. Eventually, though, they left the living room and attempted to do their homework in between my shouts of glee and groans of dismay. Little did they know what was about to happen.


It was the top of the ninth, two outs, Matt Holliday at the plate. Sure, the Giants were winning 9-0 and the Cardinals had committed two errors in the game, but this moment was the end-all be-all. Then, it happened.


The pitch. Holliday swings; a sky-high pop up to second. Scutaro scrambled around for position on the soggy, puddle-filled infield. Then, he squeezed the leather and the game was over.


Giants win.


The average fan would smile a smile of relief and satisfaction, turn off the TV, and carry on with their evening. The average fan might have had a conversation with the significant other over an average Monday night dinner. The average non-Giants fan might even be a bit apathetic about the outcome of the game.


To the dismay of my roommates, I am not an average fan. They knew I loved baseball, of course, but it was a bit of a joke among the group. What they experienced that night might have been comparable to the joy of the liberation of the Americans from British rule.


“All hell broke loose” might be a bit of an understatement. The whole apartment complex heard my shouts of celebration. I may as well have been at AT&T Park, considering all the dancing and shouting and near-crying that was taking place.


My roommates looked at each other in disbelief as I crumpled onto the couch, gasping for air. One of them even attempted to record the mayhem on her phone. Unfortunately, the initial celebration had subsided. The Giants had won and the Cardinals were eliminated from a postseason that they arguably should not have even been a part of anyway. The dark forces had been defeated.


I cannot even imagine what it would be like if the Cubs actually advanced that far in the postseason. We will cross that bridge when we get there. But for now, for a fan who bleeds Cubbie Blue, a Cardinals postseason elimination is the next-best thing.


Fast forward to the next week, Tuesday night. A few friends want to get together to go get a bite to eat. Naturally, before leaving, I check my email. Lo and behold, an email from MLB.com was sitting there, beckoning me to apply for the MLB FanCave.


As quickly as I could, I read the requirements for application and began working on the writing segment of it. Out of excitement, I called my dad and told him about it. Thus began the journey of applying to the FanCave.


Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor the gloom of the night can keep me away from the game, and I mean that most literally. Part two of the application process required filming a video. If you know anything about Wisconsin, it is cold, and it snows a lot. Naturally, it was incorporated into the video.


Once the writing submission and the video were both completed and turned in, the waiting game began. It took 30 days to hear anything about it. Those 30 days felt like a month to me, they took so long (Yes, 30 days does equal a month, I am aware.).


When I finally did hear something about the application, what I read was unbelievable: “Congratulations! You have been chosen as a Top 52 finalist for the MLB FanCave!” I was beside myself with excitement. I had to tell somebody. It was 9:30 on Thursday morning, right when Principles of Coaching was supposed to begin, but I ran outside the classroom and exclaimed to my professor, “I have really exciting news. I’m a Top 52 finalist for the FanCave!!!” and skipped around a little bit. Then who did I call? You guessed it. Dad.


I dialed with shaking hands. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally he answered.

“Katie?” he said.

“Yeah.” I choked as tears welled up in my eyes.

“What’s up?”

“I made it.”

We both were cheering and crying and carrying on over the telephone. People walking by were giving me strange looks.


After the necessary phone calls were made to my mom and other close friends, the campaigning began. Receiving endorsements from current players and sports writers is a lot of fun. You know that feeling when your favorite player at the ballpark acknowledges you? That is kind of what it is like. Local newspapers posted stories and headlines and Cubs blogs posted stories about the only Cubs fan making it to the Top 52. Even the Iowa Cubs put up a post on Facebook about it.


Let me tell you, the amount of support from everyone has been incredible. For a small-town girl from Wisconsin to be recognized by Major League Baseball to represent the Chicago Cubs in this contest is something of which only a person could dream. I am eternally grateful to everyone for your votes and kind words.


The next phase of the contest is a segment at Spring Training. That’s right; if enough people can find it within themselves, somewhere in the cockles of their hearts to vote me into the top 30, I could be representing the Cubs for the Spring Training portion of this contest. How incredible would that be? (It would be very, very incredible.)


So, Cubs fans, I have a request for you. While you are voting for me, please tell your friends, your coworkers, and your family. Basically, tell anyone who has ears. There are only five and a half days left to vote, and every vote counts.


Plus, don’t cubs live in caves, anyway? So it would only make sense for a Cubs fan to be in the FanCave.


You guys are the best. I really mean that, too.


To vote, click here.



(Postseason logo borrowed from: http://www.eauclaireexpress.com/webfiles/fnitools/albums/news/large/mlb-postseason-2012.jpg)

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Katie Cernek is a regular contributor to VFTB. She grew up as a Cubs fan in rural Wisconsin and fondly remembers hearing stories of Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo. You can find Katie on Twitter @heyitskatiec