A couple disclaimers about this post: First, I’m from St. Louis, and the Cardinals’ rivalry with the Cubs dates back to before the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908. Second, I don’t pay much attention to baseball anymore beyond what is relevant to dominate my fantasy league. Which I do, of course.
After well over a century, the Cubs and their fan base have tasted baseball glory.
But amid the parade and inexplicable coronation of journeyman backup catcher David Ross as a baseball god, I wonder whether Cubs fans have lost something more valuable than a World Series championship.
Until now, the Cubs featured an unrivaled reputation as the most lovable losers in American sports history. Their fan base was arguably the most loyal, if only by virtue of their willingness to fill Wrigley Field year after year to be slowly tortured throughout the 6 months required to add another tally each October to the impressive record of futility. Wrigley Field itself became an icon for its ivy-covered outfield walls and infrastructure that was already aging during the Nixon administration.
All that to say, the Chicago Cubs were special. Hell, I come from St. Louis, the home of the club with more World Series banners than any team not named the Yankees, and I’ll admit that there’s always been something vaguely enviable about knowing so clearly what your team stands for, even if the thing that your team stands for is an unprecedented inability to win.
That was the Cubs’ claim. Nobody could take from them.
Somebody will take that championship from the Cubs. They’ve joined the class of clubs who must defend a championship, and they’ll learn the hard lesson the rest of us already know.
Champions always fall.
And when that happens, Cubs fans will find that they can never go back to the time when losing was lovable, which was only possible because of its inevitability. Now when they fall from grace, the pain of losing will be compounded by a new sensation, the agony of having believed you weren’t supposed to lose.
I, being from St. Louis, know this feeling well. It’s not a good one.
You know who else knows this feeling?
Pretty much every fan of every other sports team on the planet.
The only people who didn’t know this feeling intimately were Cubs fans, given that nobody rejoicing today was alive the last time they won.
Cubs fans are now just like the rest of us. Sometimes the team wins. Sometimes the team loses. Sometimes it rains.
As far as I can tell, the only remaining difference of any consequence between the Cubs and other professional sports teams is that the Cubs play in the shittiest pro stadium in America.
So Cubs fans should enjoy those troughs in the men’s room. They’re the the only claim to uniqueness that the Cubs have left.