Cubs Win!

November 8, 2016

Cubs Win

So the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. Some thoughts from a lifelong fan who enjoyed the 2016 season more than most.

Everyone except some diehard fans in Cleveland are Cubs fans in November, 2016. I have no problem with that. The Cubs were fun, exciting, dramatic and… oh, what the heck, I’m just gonna say it. During a pathetically sophomoric and un-American presidential campaign, the Cubs represent what is good about our nation. A dream. Teamwork. Dedication. Perseverance. A mix of races, ages, skill levels and backgrounds, they did something I thought would never happen. (I’m including the players, the coaches, the administrations and the millions of devoted followers dating back however-many years)

I have great admiration for the 2016 Cleveland Indians. Game 7 was an ugly game in baseball terms, but beautiful in terms of history. Cub lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler starts the game with a home run. I was driving home from the airport, and the thunderous ovation that came over the airwaves and through my car speakers shocked me. When I got home in front of the television, the reason for the cheers and applause became apparent – there were more Cubs fans in Progressive Field, the Indians home park, than Cleveland fans. I know that feeling, having played football at the U of IL when teams from Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin would have as many fans in our stadium as we did. It’s disheartening.

To their credit, the Tribe not only fought hard in the game, but the 9th inning 2-run home run by Rajai Davis (another name that I, as a Cub fan, will never forget) lent the 2016 World Series a certain fairytale cache and nailed it down as “classic.” It was unreal. Respect to you, Mr. Davis and the Indians.

I’ve heard lots of reasons and excuses for Indians fans not showing up for the finale (and Game 6), and that’s fine. But here’s the difference: there is no way on earth that Wrigley Field in 2016 would have more anything but a handful of opposing fans in their ballpark.

The Indians fans were happy to have a team in the World Series. Cub fans were deliriously fanatical and living something historic and time-altering.

The future might change, of course. Maybe Cub nation gets bored with winning and the tables turn, so the “lovable losers” become the “hated winners” over the next couple of seasons. Fine. I’m reveling now, so who cares?

For those of us who paid for tickets and spent much of our young lives at Wrigley Field watching the George Mitterwalds and the Ivan DeJesus’s and Steve Trachsels, this summer and fall made it all worthwhile. So I thank all those Cubs names from my beat-up old scorecards that I kept for all those years with the little pencil and funny numbers (6-4-3 for a double play grounder to short stop) in the boxes (hence: “box score”).

Here’s another thing I liked about the Cleveland Indians team. The Indians have not yet given into political correctness, keeping the name “Indians” and their logo: Chief Wahoo. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Native American, so I don’t begrudge sports teams changing their names and mascots so as not to hurt feelings and insult peoples. Baseball is a game of tradition, and the Indians have been part of that for a millennia.

I wore my Cub “Starter” jacket, circa 1998, for my flight to and from Denver over the weekend. It was fun getting all the “way to go!” comments and the shouts of “Cubbies!” The World Series has lost much of its panache with the passage of time (ex., The Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series, an effortless 4-game sweep over The Houston Astros, which nobody ever talks about and is barely a cursory note in baseball lore), but this World Series captured the imagination of a country starved for something positive.

Now comes the election.

Spring training can’t come fast enough.

Cub fans swarm the field