Where I’m at: our apartment in Arlington, VA
What I’m doing: perhaps stupidly posting my new address for friends/family
Why I’m posting: I may have reached a (baseball) breakthrough…
Many of you will know this about me: that my distaste for the Chicago Cubs is rivaled by a (sports-related only) dislike for very few other things. I’ve long detested most everything about the Cubs.
Or so I thought. You see, as a 5-year resident of Wrigleyville in Chicago, I got an up-close verification of 2 things I formerly believed – and now know – to be true: the Cubs stink and their fans stink worse.
Now, I give a caveat here: really good Cubs fans – like the really good fans of any other team or thing, the ones who know players’ names, records, generally are aware of when a baseball season is or what the game of baseball is – are actually fantastic fans. They’d have to be to keep coming back for the same abuse year in and year out. Unfortunately, what probably represents the majority of Cubs fans are the people who go to games to be seen, constantly have to be reminded that a game has 9 innings, think they’ve heard of players like Ryne Sandburg or Andre Dawson but think they’re still on the team, and call their team “The Cubbies.” I’ve done numerous studies (trust me on this) and these fans actually like it when the Cubs lose. They like to consider “their” team lovable losers and wear the moniker like a badge of honor. I can’t stand that for so many reasons, but the biggest is probably that it makes all the good, really good, fans look bad by association. It’s the same reason I hate bad lawyers, bad politicians, bad doctors, etc.; the bad ones make the public forget about the good ones. Unfortunately, unlike lawyers or doctors, there are far far far more bad Cubs fans than good ones.
Which is too bad. And thus I arrive at my breakthrough. You see, while hating on the Cubs for many years and texting fellow-ND alum Steve Bart-man to screw up Moises Alou’s theoretical franchise-changing catch, I’ve unfairly lumped all of the good things about the Cubs in with the bad. Wrigley Field: heaven on baseball earth. The announcers (from Harry to Len and Bob): top-notch. Day baseball: it should always be. A huge payroll: if only for the Reds (we’d be the Yankees of baseball!).
But while watching my Reds predictably obliterate the Cubs for a sweep in Chicago this weekend – which the Reds finished off today by starting their “B” line-up and still scoring 11 runs – I felt a strange feeling (at least in the realm of sports): pity. Not for the fans, mind you, but for the team itself. Being from Cincinnati and being friends with people from Cleveland and Philly, I can appreciate the feeling of losing. All the time. For years and years. But I always told myself that the Cubs infamous losing streak either somehow served them right or that somehow seeing other teams in the city succeed made up for it. I delighted in a fallen rival, as any sports fan would. But at some point, I questioned whether it was fun any more. Sometimes the greatest joy in sports is actually just winning, rather than winning and pouring salt into the wounds of your rivals at the same time.
At this point, though, there’s so much salt in Chicago that the Morton Salt factory along the Dan Ryan Expressway had to add a new wing. It was great seeing the Cubs bloop their way through a couple decades when winning wasn’t expected of them. But for years now, they’ve had an enormous payroll (1st in the NL this year) and now their losing is a by-product of chronic underachieving good players and over-projecting poor players. And for the first time today, that wasn’t fun for me to watch.
So maybe it’s my age or maybe it’s because now – finally – the Reds are back on track and winning is enough. Whatever it is, I’ll make this amends: “Dear Chicago Cubs (team, not fans), I forgive you. I’m of course never going to root for you, but I’ll stop actively rooting against you, at least until you learn how to defend yourself. Maybe we’ll see you on the right side of .500 again someday. Maybe not. But I’ll just say thanks for the memories, awful as they were, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out of clubhouse come October.”
Who said it: George Will, the political commentator and baseball lover-supreme
Why it’s relevant: because I still don’t forgive Cubs fans and wish the number was higher
The quote: “Chicago Cubs fans are 90% scar tissue.”