For the record, it doesn’t matter.
Let’s get that out of the way right now. The NLCS series is tied, so tongues and fingers are wagging wildly. The bad calls, the lucky breaks, blah, blah, blah.
Why is it always “luck” for the Cubs, but “talent” or “skill” for every other damn team?
It doesn’t matter. For those who were not blessed to be born in Chicago, or at least within the considerable reach of WGN Radio, I’ll explain.
By definition a Cub fan comes from a long line of Cub fans. Like having family in an unusual line of work – funeral directors, circus performers – you don’t choose it so much as inherit it, sort of a Judaism of sports.
My mom always had the Cubbies on the radio, a valiant attempt to take the monotony out of housework. Her father loved to rock away hot afternoons on the back porch, Camel in left hand, Stroh’s in right, portable transistor on the windowsill. His father was a witness to the Cubs’ 1908 World Series victory. I was a really little kid and there was a lot of rambling and Stroh’s involved, so I wouldn’t put a ton of credence on that. You get the point.
We fans of the ivy walls go way back, and share the world view of Russian poets: it sucks much of the time, but is still beautiful and deserves to be celebrated.
And so we are celebrating, and have been celebrating, and will continue to celebrate long after this season wraps up, whatever the outcome.
Truth is we are, like those Russian poets, screwed no matter what. If the Cubs prevail and win not just their division but – dare I say it? will I jinx it? – The World Series, it will be a fluke, a flash in the pan, no way will they repeat or become a dynasty like the Cards or the Mets.
If they lose, well… no surprise, right? They are, after all, the Cubs.
Here’s the thing: they are more of a dynasty than any “dynastic” sports team in any sport.
My second date with Future Husband was at a Cubs game. He was late picking me up, jet lagged from a business trip red-eye, and we got caught in traffic on Clark Street thanks to the Gay Rights Parade. This was way, WAY before Stub Hub. Rotary dial phones were still a thing. That month the Cubs had 10 wins and 17 losses, and would ultimately finish fifth in the National League East, yet box office tickets had sold out weeks in advance.
That’s a dynasty.
In that long ago time when “app” was weird shorthand for “appetizer”, season ticket holders had a lockdown on the good seats. Last minute spectators were destined for the bleachers, and then only if you could find a scalper.
We did find one under the El stop at Addison, but hearing the guy was impossible. Who knows what he actually wanted for the tickets, but he took what was offered. Cubs played the Mets, Cubs lost, it was a wonderful afternoon, that night we got some takeout and took it to Belmont Harbor and about a year later were married. We’re gonna be like that old couple with the jerseys that say “together since” and “1986”. Goals, right?
Throw a rock at ten Cub fans (please don’t, it’s a metaphor) and you’ll hit a great story.
During the era of Let There Be Light(s), forces from the dark side nearly ended the dynasty by failing to see that it is more than the team. It is an old, funky ballpark in an old, funky neighborhood in an old, funky city. They wanted to ship the franchise out to the ‘burbs, to a huge, flashy, mega complex. The kind with convenient parking and electronic score boards that explode after a home run.
Nope. That’s what the fans are for. Thank God rational thought prevailed, the lights went up, and the sun continued to rise in the east. It was little close for comfort, though, kind of like this series.
I’m snarky enough to point out that as victory became less than certain in Game 4, LA fans left their stadium in droves. Yet during Game 3 (which we can agree was not the Cubs’ finest hour) when TV cameras panned the crowd there sat Cub fans riveted to their seats, odds be damned/hope springs eternal/need to finish the beers, whatever. Husband and I have been expat fans for over 20 years now, and on a recent visit to Denver waited out a two-hour rain delay to watch the Cubs play the Rockies. Happily. Cubs lost.
So just to set things straight, the outcome doesn’t matter. Thanks, Cubbies.