Breaking up with the Cubs

Breaking up with the Cubs

Dear Cubs,

A lot has changed since we met. 

It was 1987.  Wrigley Field didn't have lights.  The only people who watched your games on the rooftop were construction workers making repairs to the aged buildings.

Those were the was so innocent.

I was happy with you as a last place team.  You were so cute and apologetic.  Your grass was always cut so perfectly.  You even kept ivy on the walls to invite me in every spring.  I even remember you went through two managers that year before hiring a third in early 1988.  But that didn't change anything.  Your home was so comforting and your positive attitude in tough times made you endearing.

It's just...I don't feel the same way anymore...and as I look back, I think I can see what happened.

Remember when you finally decided to go out and get lights in 1988?  I thought to myself, 'this guy is changing!  He's going to make something of himself!'  All of the new money we'd make as a couple...we could go out and make changes...maybe some new renovations to our home.

Then 1989 happened.

We hit the jackpot with a young group of guys.  Suicide squeezes won games, relief pitchers were hitting game winning doubles, double steals caught pitchers off guard, comebacks were the norm...and we did it all with a roster of men almost completely under 25.

It may have been the worst thing to happen to you for the next 13 years.

You thought you could copy that: making money off the fans, pinning hopes on young talent, and shrugging your shoulders when the cards didn't turn up right.

I had almost called you off.  I dealt with losing our first 12 games at home in 1994.  I walked with you when you lost your first 14 in 1997.  I knew that you had something...the breaks had to turn the other way.

That's when our home exploded.  Our good friend Sammy was belting balls out of the park at a record pace, our team was winning games in the final at bat, and this new young phenom named Kerry was setting rookie pitching records.

We got back to the playoffs! 

And we welcomed in all of the new yuppies.  We thought it was good for business.  Sure, we let them infiltrate starting back in the mid 80's, but this time we went out and actively pursued them.

You got so full of yourself then.  You saw how our new fans would still show up when Sammy was belting balls out of the didn't matter if we won 90 or lost 90.

I was about to leave...again.

I made an ultimatum:  Either try to win now or I'm taking the kids!

All of a sudden, you got Ramirez and Lofton for nothing.  Wood and Prior were healthy. Remember when you held me after Game 4 of the NLCS and told me that 'this is our destiny...we were meant for each other' and 'you will be rewarded for staying with me.'

I know you tried.  I wasn't upset.  I know that losing that series wasn't your fault.  You didn't commit the errors.  It wasn't you who didn't console Prior after the Bartman play.

To tell you the truth, I wasn' t upset...I felt sorry for you.  I know how much it meant to you.  I spent 45 minutes kicking around a cigarette box trying to collect my thoughts.

When you tried extra hard to win in 2004 by getting Maddux, Walker, Garciaparra, Lee, and Hawkins...I thought it was endearing.

But by that time I knew who you were; a loser.  A loser who could never win.

You might wonder why I didn't leave after making that realization in 2004.

Well, the truth is, I had nowhere to go.

I wasn't going to leave you for your hated stepbrother; the White Sox.

I wasn't going to leave you for your despised mother-in-law (Cardinals), your drunk uncle (Brewers), or your cute cousin (Pirates).  

I was just going to sit here and wait.  No sense in changing.

That's when I started to not care.

I started writing more: plays, commercials, comedy sketches, blog-writing, etc.  I even started spending more time with my wife.

And guess what?  I didn't miss you.

I felt sorry for you when the White Sox and Cardinals won in back-to-back years, but I had come to  expect it.  I always expect the worst from you...that way I'm not let down.

My bottom was in 2008.  You got all excited about your league best 97 wins.  You kept asking me why I wasn't excited...and I didn't have the heart to tell you.

A born loser loses.  And you, my friend, are a born loser.

So, when you got swept by LA I barely blinked.

Lately, I've been spending time with my son.  He's beautiful.  We go for long walks.  Just Jack (that's his name), Mollie, and me.  We talk about work, life, art.  It's really fulfilling.  I almost forgot about you one day...actually...I lied...I forgot about you for a couple weeks.

Then, last week, I turned you on to see how you were doing.  Once again, you were losing.  But not just losing.  You were making errors all over the field, deciding to not start young superstars, and making asinine mid-inning batting substitutions.  The whole thing made me depressed.  

You wouldn't even believe what I've been watching  That's right.  I'm choosing soccer over you on a daily basis.

Did you know how good soccer looks in HD?  It's mesmerizing!  I even have teams that I like and dislike.  I'm really into this!

You're probably wondering how I could've left you for a game I despised just 10 years ago.  The truth is, you aren't the cute loveable team I grew up with.  Now, you're just pathetic. 

You wear those pinstriped jerseys that just scream 'loser'!  Your jerseys now have names on the back.  When we were the closest in our relationship, you wouldn't dare do such a thing.  But now, you have 35,000 casual fans that show up every day and none of them know who the players are. 

Back then, we didn't need numbers.  We knew who everybody was.

Now, we're just like Angels fans.

Showing up in the 3rd, leaving in the 8th.  Drinking our beer and making lewd comments to any woman showing the slightest of skin.

You're just a frat party.  Only now, you're just an old frat party with clueless fans and old degenerates.

That's why I have to leave you.  We're not the same people.

This past month, I saw what a real champion looks like.  They left their hearts out on the ice.  They fought for every possession.  They didn't make excuses.  

So cohesive, so dedicated, so smart.

Everything that you're not.

You don't have to wonder why the empty seats are starting to emerge in the corners of the stadium...truth is...we forgot what a champion looks like.

And champs make you looks like chumps.

This might be hard for you...but it isn't for me.  

Good bye.

In the words of Humphrey Bogart..."We'll always have Sandberg."

Now, pardon me, I have some soccer to watch.



p.s. For the kids, could you please start Colvin every day?  You're killing every kid under 13 in the Chicagoland area.  Please dress him...for the kids.


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  • The Chicago Cubs remind of the one girl who keeps breaking your heart. She keeps asking you back but once you buy in and give your heart she just breaks it. Chicago Cubs you have broken my heart to many times.

    Heartbroken Cubs Fan...

  • "And guess what. I didn't miss you."

    Perfect! Had the exact same thought when I flipped on the 12-0 debacle to the Angels after not watching an inning for close to 2 weeks.

  • I did see on the news about the noodle, glad the new owners are focused on the right things. I am done with the Cubs and Baseball. It really is boring after all these years

  • Thank you John for writing this goodbye letter. It's almost like you are speaking for all us Cubs fans. That is why there are more and more empty seats every game. Us true Cub fans have just had it. I have averaged at least 30 games for the last 36 years and have gone to exactly 1 game this year. Just can't take it anymore. I wish all Cubs fans would follow this lead and just not show up to the games anymore. I mean, they're just not worth it. I'd give my money to charity before I go to another Cubs game (Cubs have the highest ticket prices in MLB. Think about that for a minute. The highest priced tickets to see the worse team in sports history)! They are no longer the loveable losers and now are just pathetic! An embarrassment to Chicago.

  • This writing is right on the mark! For years, I have made an emotional investment in the Cubs (I am 50 years old), only to watch the futility of past and present ownership plans play-out. I always have told people that my old man died without ever seeing the Cubs win the World Series. It seems plausible that I may suffer the same fate, as long as packed stands and $6.75 beer continue to generate big money.

  • Cycle up, cycle down.

    At least I can afford tickets now.

  • Meh. Somehow I'm strongly suspecting that Captain Meatball and those on this blog agreeing with him will be the first to jump back on the bandwagon and begin comparing their Cubs fans resumes as a way of distinguishing themselves from the bandwagon jumpers.

    Personally, I'd much rather have the 12-year period from 1998 to 2010 than any other period in Cubs history since 1945. Wouldn't you? How many heartbreaks did the Red Sox endure until they won? The White Sox? Please.

    Fans like you want us all to believe that the Blackhawks spoiled it for you. No. If the Blackhawks spoiled anything, it was the understanding that winning championships actually either takes 1) money, time and work (see: the Red Sox and Phillies) or 2) lightning in a bottle (the 2005 White Sox -- yes, I know their starters were dominant in that one postseason, but what happened in 2006 and 2007?)

    The Blackhawks are a great team, don't get me wrong, and I am delighted they won. But now it seems everyone seems to be of the opinion that every team in Chicago can just instantly flip a switch and win a title. The fact is the Hawks were bad -- not just mediocre, but real, real bad, for a long, long time. We're talking two decades. This allowed them to draft high for a long time, stockpile talent, add good role players here and there, and voila, seemingly instant rise to greatness.

    Toews and Kane were not free agents brought in on the cheap, or quality players acquired in a "pantsing" of another team. They were homegrown studs drafted thanks to a long period of horrible results.

    I personally do not want the Cubs to ever experience a 15-20 year period like those I endured as a Hawks fan. I want them to build on the success of the 2000s and give us a championship the way quality franchises do it -- by winning and contending year after year until the pieces fall together correctly, culminating in a parade.

  • In reply to JB13:

    What happened in 2006? Its called winning 90 games and having two teams in your division with two of the best records in baseball besides the Mets and Yanks. I don't know, 5th record in baseball that year is pretty good ...unfortunately just not enough. You don't bottle lightning all year long to put together a 99 win season and a dominant performance in the post. Sorry.

  • In reply to JB13:

    "This allowed them to draft high for a long time, stockpile talent, add good role players here and there, and voila, seemingly instant rise to greatness."

    If the Cubs did this then this post would never have to be written. But the organizational choices are awful and there is no sign they're going to start working towards long-term success. They just cater to keep fans in the seats.

  • In reply to JimmyGreenfield:

    Chill out, Jimmy. Take off your short-sighted specks. You don't actually believe "...there is no sign they're going to start working towards long-term" do you? The Cubs have recently built one of the most successful and respected farm systems in MLB. Their AAA, AA and A minor league teams are all contending or leading in their divisions. Their under-25-year-olds on the major league roster (Castro, Colvin, Cashner) all look like long-term successes. So, there are plenty of signs out there if you can emotionally get past the this season's daily frustrations.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    No, I don't see any signs. First of all, the Cubs were ranked among the worst systems by Baseball America in December. Love Castro, Colvin and Cashner but it took forever to get Colvin in the lineup and the Cubs are wasting Cashner in the bullpen.

    But the issue isn't if they have good prospects, it's whether they're willing to anger the fan base to do what's best. Haven't seen that.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    What a pant load. You met the Cubs in 1987? Assuming you weren't on the extended plan in college I guess you were about 5 years old. If your pain does not include the 1984 playoffs you are less qualified than most fans to write this piece. You are a typical fair weather fan. As far as I am concerned eras begin and end with ownership. The Tribune made a solid effort reaching the playoffs 6 times in 35 years. There are 30 teams vying for the brass ring. Atlanta was a perennial division winner and only grabbed one championship. It's a combo of money spent, development, injuries and luck. The Hawks are great but that doesn't substitute for baseball. Soccer? Get a life. You're spoiled. Please don't ever come back.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    Meatball I'd laugh if I didn't know you were 100% Heart-Attack serious. All I can say is be careful what you wish for buddy. Still, very well written...

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    I've given up on the Cubs last year. I don't watch them at all period. For all I know this franchise will never win a World Series ever! Come on man it has been over 102 years now and counting! It's pretty pathetic needless to say. I only watch Da Bears, Da Bulls and Da Hawks now. Baseball just doesn't do it for me anymore.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    What most people have said about the cubs are true. I at times have thought that they should get rid of the cubs as a frantise. Until that happens I have to remain an optimistic cubs fan.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    BRAVO CAPTAIN MEATBALL - you are now my hero!! I grew up just a couple of miles west of Wrigley and wasted much of my girlish youth at Wrigley - lol! We actually used to go and cheer on Ryno, Jodi, Rick..and WATCH THE GAME! I went last Friday to unfortunately be behind of bunch of stupid 30-something guys more into the $6.75 beers than the game - go to a bar and let the rest of us watch. Wrigley is just one big bar and a bunch of overpaid pitchers. I married a lifelong southsider and hate to say...I enjoy the Cell. The fans aren't pretentious transplants from another city or tourista, they have the fun annual Dog Game and oh yeah...I actually went to a World Series game. Never thought I could love both teams but I do. I just love the 1980's Cubs.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    it's funny...i get so much disdain from cubs fans because i'm a sox fan. there's so much hype put into cubdom, but very little true loyalty, which is what i think happens when fans are recruited from superstations or because of the party atmosphere. don't get me wrong, i'm sure there are some true blue cubs fans but i run into so many "fans" who don't even know as much as i know about the cubs.

    something else, look at the franchises in this city who have won in the last 100 years, especially recently, and see what they've done: build the organization into a family where former players are embraced. everybody loved sammy when he was hitting home runs on a losing team but when the team started to get better than his skills, what happened? he carried that sorry team for years and what has he gotten from the fans? even frank thomas is back in the sox house.

    my point is this, being a fan is a for better or for worse proposition. i spent many a cold sunday afternoon in soldier field during the 70's and many a warm day in comiskey watching the ugliest uniforms in creation. i love these teams, win or lose. forget the front office, i think the cubs need better cheeks in the seats.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    This completely desplays how I feel about this year. The cubs are just one disapointment after another. It truely is pathetic.

  • In reply to jenmcautry:

    You were never a fan Meatball. Cub fandom isn't even like marriage - people get divorced. The cubs are like an immediate family member. They may be an asshole, or a drunk, but they're family and they're not going anywhere.

    And anyone who says they like or love the sox and cubs isn't a fan of baseball. Having 2 baseball teams is like having 2 starting quarterbacks - it means you don't have anything.

  • In reply to JimmyGreenfield:

    Could not have said it better myself. I to have left the Cubs. Got tired of watching players with no heart, play in front of fans with no brains.

  • In reply to JimmyGreenfield:

    Where have you gone Ryne Sandberg
    a cubbie nations turns its lonely
    eyes to you.

  • In reply to JB13:

    Great article... only one problem:

    Your analogy to the Blackhawks rings all too true, and all too scary.

    Guess who turned your beloved Cubs into the absolute joke of a frat party it has become?

    The same guy who is now at the helm of the Chicago Blackhawks. John McDonough.

    There was nothing McDonough could've done to stop the Blackhawks resurgence on the ice - the talent came from GM Dale Tallon (and also Stan Bowman, now), not John.

    But what IS coming from John is the frat party atmosphere. The cheesy "madhouse on madison" signs that talk of an era that simply doesn't exist anymore (sorry, but Chicago Stadium was truly a madhouse.. the United Center, while I love it, is not a madhouse)...

    John has made sure to start the frat party experience by ripping out a bunch of the 300-level seats and replacing them with 2 bars. Oh wait, make that 4 starting next season.

    John has made sure to lie to Season Ticket Holders by saying "look at how nice we are, we didn't raise ticket prices on you from '08 to '09" -- oh sure, it's sort of true on paper.... but in reality, it was a foregone conclusion the Blackhawks would make the playoffs in the '09 season. They doubled playoff ticket prices for me on '08 vs. '09 -- so high that my '09 playoff invoice was about 20% greater than my ENTIRE '09 SEASON.

    If John doesn't stop the path he's on, you'll be writing this same letter to the Blackhawks in 5-10 years.

  • In reply to JB13:

    Who is the Yuppie? Leave the Cubs because the Hawks, God bless em, won a championship? Is that not, by definition, what a fair weather fan is? So sure the Cubs have not been a winner in a long time and they can break your heart day in and day out but that is what we signed up for! They break your heart but they give you hope. Hope that tomorrow is the day they turn it around and hope that next season is THE season, heck I am still hopeful that this season is the season. Call me crazy or call me stupid, but you can ALWAYS call me one thing, a Cubs fan!

  • In reply to JB13:

    These posts make me sad. I went to my first game Opening Day 1960, College of Coaches, The Good Kid, Ernie, Billy, Ron, Leo the Lip, Joe Pepitone and his hairpiece, Kong, Hey-Hey Jack, Buckner, The Whale, Sutter, Lee Smith, Wild Thing, Mad Dog, Ryno, Jody, Sosa, Gracie, Harry and Marla Collins!
    Come on folks, this isn't baseball, this is our life. Cubbies!

  • In reply to mkegel:

    43 years as a Cubs fan. So PLEASE don't you dare call me fair weather. I gave them up after the 3 losses to LA, I just couldn't take it anymore. I haven't watched or listened to a single inning since.

    And the only thing I really miss is Pat and Ron on the radio.

  • In reply to samgreco:

    they only lost 2 to the stupid L.A. the won the 3rd game 12-1, pounding out 18 hits in 8 innings. But, ultimately, you are night. The Cubs suck donkey dick. It feels normal when they choke. It feels like they're living up to their expectations when they choke. The corporate culture of the Cubs is --> choke.

  • In reply to samgreco:

    Gapers Block has a guy that did you one better:

  • In reply to samgreco:

    I get that you are unhappy with the Cubs, I won't disagree. Why take it out on Angels fans? We are not all plastic, OC-types some of us actually follow the game and stay until the game is over!

  • I am from California, and grew up watching the Cubs on WGN. (as we were the first community in my area to have cable) So, having lived here five years, I'm a new Cubs fan... and an old one. But I must say, fans here are disfunctional.

    You are still citing that Prior should have been calmed down? Ugh. I've had this conversation three dozen times... Prior served up a tailor-made double-play. Why do you insist Baker made a mistake? (if he should have calmed down the *team* sure... but Prior did his job... and Baker is a better manager in real-time then Cubs fans are in hindsight)

    A couple of years ago I was at a game after the Cubs won three straight against the Pirates. In May. Fans were talking World Series. Ugh. I come from L.A., where we did things like win World Series. We never got excited when the Dodgers swept the Padres. We were a good team... we are *supposed* to sweep the Padres. Fans here need to know the difference between beating up the bottom of the division... and being good enough to beat the top. Later that year they were optimistic about our chances in the playoffs. I looked at the schedule and they had not won a series with a team over .500 since July. Not going to go far in the playoffs if you can't beat the good teams.

    And this. C'mon. This is your team. Your premise is that you loved them move when they absolutely never won, or strung together two winning seasons, then when they actually give you some victories. While funny... again... more passive agressive.

    I want the Cubs to win the World Series because: a) it would be great, b) there are a bunch of 90 year old fans out there who deserve it and c) so that this town (speaking of the North Side here) might finally cure it's passive-agressive neurosis it has with baseball.

    It's your marriage... you have to work at it.

  • This is great. I've been trying to put a finger on my apathy this year, but your post kind of sums it up. The losing is just not cute anymore.

    After the thrill of watching the Blackhawks and my Butler Bulldogs over the past few months, I just can't get it up for the Cubs right now.

    I'm not breaking up with them officially, but I think we're on a break. The two of us need to think about some things, like where our priorities lie.

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