Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Did We Expect?

We Are Cubs fans.

What could we possibly have expected to happen differently? Have we not learned anything in our lifetime of misery? It nevers turns out well. Never! We're the Charlie Borwns, eagerly ready to attack the football and surprised when Lucy pulls it away, even though we always knew it was going to happen. So why do I constantly fall for it? Is there something wrong with me?

If I wanted to be happier, I would choose the Yankees as my team. Unfortunately, this isn't about choices. If I could do it over, there is no way in hell I would be a Cubs fan. But like I said, it's not about choices. At a young age I became a Cubs fan. I would watch WGN almost every day during the summer. In 1984, I secretly wanted the Cubs to win the World Series more than my hometown Tigers. Of course we all know how that turned out, even though I could take solace in a championship for my hometown team. And I've probably learned more about baseball from Steve Stone than everyone one else. Once I moved to Chicago my fate was sealed - I'm a Cubs fan and I'll be miserable for the rest of life desperately clinging to the faint hope of a championship. Alas, we all know that championship will never come. But something keeps us watching...

Maybe it's the fear that the minute we turn our backs will be the minute they turn it all around. Stop being a Cubs fan and boom! 5 straight championships. It's not unlike any other superstitions that permeate our sports community. Whether it's the pregame chicken a la Wade Boggs or the pregame Bloody Mary a la my friend Rich or the lucky shirt you wear, us sports fans have the irrational belief in weird stuff making a difference. And somehow I think we all collectively feel that way about the Cubs. In some small way it's our fault. If only we would stop caring the century of failure would turn into a century of success. But we are too afraid of missing out on the fun that we can not bring ourselves to give up and not care. So we keep on keeping on, hoping against hope on the irrational thought that THIS will be our year. Our turn is just around the corner. It's only a matter of time until we win. It's gotta happen sometime, doesn't it? Well, it aint' gonna happen, yet I still watch.

And I watch. And I attend. And I cheer. I spend unbelievable amounts of money. And the time. My God, the time I devote to this team. And for what? To be constantly disappointed. It's a losing proposition. If it were a business, I would have declared bankruptcy years ago. And I would probably have moved on and been much happier as my new team wins championships. But I still cling to the Cubs. So I go to 10+ games every year. And I watch literally over 100 games a year. And I allow my emotions to be dictated by what some guy at Clark & Addison did or did not do earlier in the day. It makes no sense but I have no choice. I am a Cubs fan.

To fully understand what it means to be a Cubs fan, you must understand how we are different from the casual losing franchise. The Red Sox were comparable until their World Series and subsequent success. But no one else compares. For some franchises have tragic collapses, but they are balanced by some success. With the Cubs, winning the division is the pinnacle of the last 63 years. But it's not just the failure, it's the monumental collapses whenever they get close. We have the Bartman debacle and the less popular following game collapse. In '84, we have the Leon Durham grounder, which preceded the Buckner grounder. There's '69 and the Amazin' Mets and the black cat. There's the collapse at the end of '04. We have the injuries of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, the duo poised to lead us to the promised land. The closer we get, the more heartwrenching the collapse. Contrast that with the Detroit Lions. In the Super Bowl era they have won 1 playoff game. But they at least have the decency to not toy with our hearts. After their only playoff win, they preceded to lose something like 43-0 against the Redskins in the NFC Championship Game. After the first quarter we could get on with our lives. By the end of the game we had reached acceptance. And all their playoff games basically followed the same pattern. Now, they don't even play a meaningful game past Thanksgiving. As a Cubs fan, we are still traumatized by what could have been in 2003. Or if only we had a healthy Wood and Prior lo these many years. And on and on and on...

So once the Cubs fail to reach the postseason I will once again think there's always next year, because it's technically true. But there's nothing technical about being a Cubs fan. I know deep inside the only thing next year will bring is more heartache and misery. It's what it always brings. Yet I must relish it in some way. For I continue to support, cheer and watch. And even if they somehow don't blow their ridiculous lead over the Brewers, they'll just find another way to disappoint us. But we don't care. We are Cubs fans. There's always next year in our world, even if we know it's not true. For I am a Cubs fans.


*sports*baseball *MLB *Chicago *Cubs*curse*Bartman *failure*fans *Tom G


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