“I don’t want to be a killjoy, but it’s been my experience that it’s always safer to bet against the Cubs.”
That is what I tweeted a week ago last Monday. Now, I have to eat my words, and I couldn’t be happier!
I’ve always been a casual baseball fan. As a kid, my family supported the Mets because our uncle was a scout for them. Our local radio station carried the Royals.
As an adult, I lived in Lincoln for 14 years and I knew a lot of Cubs fans, but I didn’t care. I moved to Denver nine years ago and have been to more than a few Rockies games, but I’m not passionate about them.
Having said that, I admire the dedicated loyalty of Cubs fans everywhere. To paraphrase Eddie Vedder, Cubs supporters are not fair weather fans, but foul weather fans.
They’re people like my pal Amy B, who always wore a Cubs T-shirt when the weather got nice. I watched a lot of the competition between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in 1998 on her living room floor. Or her Uncle Ray, a school teacher who took a day off every year for the first Cubs game of the season
Or my buddy Wes, who was more interested in the Cubs match-up against the Marlins that night at Applebee’s in 2003. I was more interested in guzzling Long Island ice teas and flirting with some girl or other.
Wes was perfectly in character when he dragged Amy M and I to a Cubs game when we visited Chicago over Labor Day weekend of 2007. The Cubs won that day and I affectionately chuckled at the fans who stayed around and sang, “Go Cubs, Go!”
Then, there’s my folks. I’d like to think that they would have been Cubs fans if not for family loyalty. Whatever the case, their association with Jim Hendry brought them around in the early 2000’s. I texted Mom the other night that I didn’t think the Cubs would win. Her response was classic Mom: “Shame on you!”
As an aside, I would’ve tried much harder to kiss Mr. Hendry’s ass that night he came to dinner at our house if I’d known he was gonna turn into a baseball big shot.
Even those Chicagoans who are not Cubs fans can’t help but be impacted. My coworker Matt, for instance. He’s a White Sox fan. I asked him if he was stoked about a possible Cubs victory yesterday and, in his trademark flat Chicago tone, he stated, “I’m indifferent.”
And yet, we’re having lunch today from a place called, Mustard’s Last Stand, which serves Chicago-style hot dogs.
I was pleased to see the Cubs win last night. I love the fact that we have back-to-back Midwestern championships. But this victory isn’t for me. I’m just the guy who occasionally had a game on in the background.
This is for Wes, Amy B, Uncle Ray, Mom and Dad, Jim Hendry and all the thousands of long-suffering fans who took the jokes and the affectionate contempt in the name of something bigger than themselves. They stuck with their Cubbies year after disappointing year, but they kept coming back. If that isn’t love, you tell me what is.
So, congratulations to the Chicago Cubs, 2016 World Series champions. And congratulations to their fans. 108 years is a long time.
“IT MIGHT BE…IT COULD BE…IT IS!!!”
By the way, did Steve Bartman ever come out of hiding?