Cinderella Cubs

Finally the irrepressible optimism of Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub of another era, has been rewarded: Chicago's Cubs have won a divisional title. That makes them the third baseball doormat to become a doorkeeper in this Cinderella season for the national pastime. The Cubs now join the San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers as baseball divisional winners.

It's been years for all. The Tigers last won their division in 1972; the Padres, in their 16 years in the league, had never won theirs.

Time has been particularly testing for Chicago's North Side faithful, for years springing to welcome the baseball season only to see their enthusiasm fall along with the Cubs' standing as cool weather loomed. Since 1945 the Cubs hadn't won much of anything except accolades for their lovely if anachronistic old ballpark, where ivy clutters up the outfield wall and no light towers impale the sky.

But into every drought a little rain does fall, and Cubbie fans are splashing about in unaccustomed happiness. It's a lesson to the rest of us: Persistence does pay off.

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