HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. -- As he walked out of Dolphin Stadium in Miami on that warm fall night in October 2003, Billy Corgan forgot Rule No. 1 of cheering for the Cubs: Don't look too far ahead. Even though his team had just dropped Game 5 of the National League Championship Series 4-0 to the Florida Marlins, with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood lined up to start Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7, the rock star allowed himself to dream.
"I can still remember the moment when I thought to myself, 'Man, this is really going to happen,'" Corgan says. "They hadn't won it yet, but two games at Wrigley? There was no way not with this team, not with Prior and Wood."
It has been five years since that fateful night, and Corgan still has yet to recover. The next day, the Cubs called the Smashing Pumpkins' lead singer, asking whether he would be interested in singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" should the series reach a seventh game. Corgan agreed, figuring that even if the series went seven -- which he didn't think it would -- it would mean a Wrigley suite for him and his friends to watch the pennant-clinching victory.
But then in Game 6, five outs from the World Series, Steve Bartman, Moises Alou and Alex Gonzalez combined to help the Marlins score eight runs in the eighth inning of the Cubs' crushing 8-3 loss. And in Game 7, while Corgan stood in the Fox broadcast booth waiting to sing, Florida tacked on a pair of two-out insurance runs that all but sealed the Cubs' fate in a 9-5 loss.
"It just destroyed me," Corgan says. "I have never been so excited in my life for my team. That postseason was the absolute peak moment of my fandom. There was this level of pure, unadulterated, childish joy. And to have taken that ride and experienced everything that happened in person you might as well have put a gun to my head."
And at that exact moment, the little boy who grew up sitting on the couch watching games with his grandmother, Connie, the kid who dreamed of becoming a Cubs star far more than of being a rock star, was handed a microphone in front of 39,574 broken hearts. "It was like a funeral or an Irish wake," Corgan says. "People were crying. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. There are times in life when you think God is punishing you. That was one of those times."
The Chicago native used the forum to deliver a message about loyalty. "It was basically, 'Hey, all you people that have ridden in on the bandwagon, when you are gone, we will still be here,'" Corgan says. "If they have to wheel me in there at 102 with a helmet on or something so I don't hit my head, I will still be there. I don't know if I will have any heart left, but I will still be there."
Since 2003, Corgan says he can't help but watch the team from a "healthy distance." He still pays attention and is well aware of what's going on (he loves the addition of Jim Edmonds), but doesn't live and die with every pitch the way he used to. "I can't take that ride every day now," he says. "Maybe there will be a time when I'm older and I have kids and I can take them through that experience, but right now, I just can't."
Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.