The world's most long-suffering baseball fans - according to legend anyway - are those of the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox haven't won a World Series since 1918 - when they beat the Cubs. The Cubs haven't even been in a World Series since 1945.
The Red Sox have a postseason history of blowing crucial games at the last moment - a pattern they almost repeated Monday night. Until last weekend, the Cubs had lost 10 post-season series in a row.
So it may seem a bit of cosmic justice that both teams have battled their way into their respective league championship series.
The Sox managed to put away the Oakland Athletics Monday in a 9th- inning clincher and go on to face their historic nemesis, the New York Yankees. The Cubs, who fought off the powerful Atlanta Braves, now face the Florida Marlins, who in 1997 became the first wildcard team to ever win a World Series. [Editor's note: The original version misstated the Cubs' opponent in the Division Series.]
Fans in both the Hub and the Windy City have remained remarkably loyal, sticking by their teams through thick and thin (mostly thin). Surely they deserve the nation's understanding as they hold their collective breaths and dare to dream that this could finally be their year.
No offense to the Yankees or the Marlins. But if the Cubbies and the Sox were to wind up playing each other, baseball itself just might emerge from its own slump. For connoisseurs of the game, that's not too much to dream about.