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Rivals determined to turn once lovable Cubs into villains...and I am OK with that.

Rivals determined to turn once lovable Cubs into villains...and I am OK with that.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown

There is a very dependable pattern in human nature.  As soon as someone reaches the top, a transformation of public perception begins to emerge.  Where once they were admired for their competitiveness and underdog status, those who reach the top start to be seen by their rivals not as heroes, but as villains.

Granted, sometimes it is deserved.  Sometimes those at the top really are villains.

The Steinbrenner Yankees?  

Wealthy, greedy, buy everything (and everyone) Montgomery Burns villains

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The Belichick-Brady Patriots?

Evil genius Lex Luthor villains.

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The hack your computer/no-fun allowed/head-hunting/take out sliding/self-proclaimed best fans in baseball St. Louis Cardinals?

Well, they're the mustache sporting, top hat wearing, tie the damsel to the railroad tracks, soon-to-be a distant relic of the past villains.

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But the Cubs?

The once lovable, perpetual underdog team that everyone rooted for?  The same squad that would give us brief moments of hope only to stumble at the last moment and break our hearts?  Are we talking about the team with a wistful fan base that only yearned for simpler times and a nostalgic vision of baseball?

And then on top of all that, are we talking about the same group that played the most exciting, hard-fought World Series in recent memory?  The scrappy, never-say-die squad that won with a more romanticized dramatic ending than anything Bernard Malamud could have penned?

Those Cubs?

How can anyone not love them?

Is it Pedro Strop's hat?

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Is it the confident swagger of Willson Contreras?

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Is it Jake Arrieta's physique?

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Is it dancing bullpens?

Is it because we have Kris Bryant and they don't?

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Maybe it's because the Cubs have become so powerful and sinister that they now control the weather? (or at least the local weather forecasts)

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Or maybe it is because we've been bandwagon fans for almost as long as there have been bandwagons...

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Maybe.

But I doubt it.

I suspect the real reason the Cubs aren't so lovable anymore is because they're good.  They're not the league doormats anymore.   They're not the team everyone is excited to play because of day baseball, great Chicago restaurants, and an easy W.  The Cubs are no longer a punching bag or a punchline.

They are now the team everyone else wants to beat with every fiber of their being.  When rivals come into Chicago now, it's not going to be easy.  They're going to have to deal with the crooked hats, the swagger, the cartoonishly fiendish physiques, the omnipotent weather machine, the dancing bullpens, and the cheering, singing bandwagon fans.

And if they manage to get past that formidable gauntlet of obstacles, they still have to deal with a defending World Champions that is built to sustain success indefinitely.

They better get used to it.

Deserved or not, as far as their rivals are concerned the Cubs are becoming the hated villains rather than the lovable losers.  And you know what?

That suits me just fine.

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  • fb_avatar

    I think another part of the "villain" status is because, for the first time in recent memory, the Cubs are behaving like a well-run big market team. They have plenty of revenue and an apparent willingness to re-invest it in the team rather than trying to please share-holders every quarter.

    But periodically they did that in the past too. But now they have built up a farm system that seems to still be flush with talent. They aren't the best farm system in baseball anymore but that is because they guys that got them there are winning MVPs and hitting dramatic post-season HR...or being used to acquire outstanding talent. In short, the organization is well run. While the Cardinals payroll isn't necessarily the kind of payroll we expect from a "small-market" team they got used to running circles around the Cubs as an organization. That has ended. Suddenly the playing the Cubs is as likely to result in "losing the series" as it is to a "sweep."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The sleeping giant has awoken.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly! I think the Cardinals FO even commented on it. Of course they said they looked forward to the competition. But also added it was more fun--or at least easier--when the Cubs were incompetent.

  • fb_avatar

    Better to be disliked winners than lovable losers.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Agreed.

  • I personally haven't run into the "hatred" of the Cubs in the Bay Area. I would say fans are definitely excited about the series vs. the Cubs, and at least one broadcaster (okay, Duane Kuiper), expects to be "sick" of the Cubs by the end of four-game series. But he also said that the Cubs are World Champs and deserves the attention, and he is sure other fans were/are sick of the Giants. When it was pointed out that tomorrow's game pits Cueto vs. Lester, what would have been the game 5 match up in the NLCS, the most common refrain from fans is, "Don't bring it up. It's still too soon." But they don't seem to hate the Cubs. Now the Dodgers...

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Giants and Indians were the two rivals from last we didn't hear much from. Both handled it all well. The Dodgers fans do seem the most angry. And the Cardinals, of course. And now the Brewers?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They do actually make fun of Cubs fans, in a slightly condescending way, and the handwringing over the team's "slow" start. As if to say, "Those Cubs fans are still not used to having a winning team. Can you believe some of their fans are already talking about being sellers! Ha, ha!"

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Not as bad, though, I make fun of Cubs fans for that too :)

    Last May, I had one Giants fan troll me on Twitter. Last thing he said was, "I will tweet you in October, can't wait to hear what you will be saying then"

    Of course, I never heard from him again.

  • Why do the Yankees get so much hate? I get it, with the limitless budget and all... but when I think Yankees, I think of the dynasty of the late 90s. That was before they tried to buy their championships with huge FAs.
    Those late 90s, early 2000s Yankees won on a largely homegrown roster full of high-character guys. Those teams were perfect examples of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Reminds me a lot of the current Cubs...

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I think it's those 70s teams that people hated. That and they always have to talk about how many titles they've won in the past when they're not winning in the presesnt

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh yeah, I hear you on the fans talking about titles. That's how I feel about the Yankees: don't like the fans, but I've always liked the actual organization.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    In spurts I have like the org. They were the evil empire in the 70s and they were laughable incompetent in the 80s. 90s was a big turn around and now it looks like they may be turning things around again.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It seems like I read somewhere that Steinbrenner was barred from the FO for a couple of years and it allowed the Yankees to NOT trade Jeter, Posada, etc. Had he been allowed his usual meddling during that time (early 90's?) the Yankees would have continued on their 80's incompetence.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it was all the way back to the '50s and 60's when they were in the WS almost every year, literally. And used KC as a "farm team." Yeah. That didn't win many fans.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That was before my time but I do know they were dominant for that stretch. They sound like that one guy in fantasy baseball who invites his clueless friend to play then trades for all his best players.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That was pretty much the case. From what I have read the KC GM was almost "flattered" that the Yankees were calling him.

    It was before my time as well but I like talking to old baseball fans and for many of them it was the "Mantle" years that drove them up the wall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good column John......I like this take on this.

    Don't know what the national view is but I don't think of them as the villain target yet. Maybe if we win 2 in a row or 3 out of 4 you'll see it a lot more or, if some of the players evolve into total jackwads which none seem prone to ever do.

    Like you I'm fine with the label others may hang on all things Cub.
    It really doesn't bother me to hear the Cardinal fans whining......(they're good at it) or Brennaman yelling "enough already".....

    Besides.......I've been waiting over 60 years for this.......

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Thanks. I think for the most part people are good with the Cubs. Some exceptions...the Cardinals, of course the Brewers, the Pirates, the Dodgers...I think it's really mostly just a rivalry thing. Still feels good not to be lovable losers though!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I pretty much only visit this site for my Cubs fix so forgive my ignorance, but does it seem to be the teams (or the teams' FO) or the fans who are doing the whining? Also, I don't think the Brewers team or fans should be allowed to complain about any other team until that human piece of garbage is still on their team.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    And the 20's, 30's and 40's, lol. The organization was hated but the players were respected, with good reason.

  • fb_avatar

    It's great to have the respect and fear of the other teams and broadcasters. Was it 2 years ago when Mike Krukow, broadcasting for the Giants, said something to the effect that of course they are sweeping us, they're the better team! That respect has been growing and being the favorites all last year, with the amazing start and finally winning it all everyone realizes the talent of this team.
    I don't get the hate of the Yankees (my first favorite player was Mickey Mantle). I know it seems they've won every year, and growing up in the 60's they did.
    The team that will be fun to play in the near future is the Brewers. They have young talent and are learning how to win, and with them so close we are going to be rivals for a while. Now if they can just trade Braun I'll like watching them more.

  • fb_avatar

    One thing that I always take great pride in is we don't get engaged in shenanigans like bean wars. The Brewers hit KB twice and even though they werent enough to do damage i still smelled quite a bit of intent there. We hit one of their guys and immediately Joe ran out and said something to the effect of, we dont play those games, dont eject my effing pitcher, the pitch got away from him. We don't give away bases by hitting players purposely and I appreciate that.

    The Brewers certainly seem to be trying to troll us.

  • Last week I just happened upon a Cub haters website. These people were bitter and FULL of anger. A lot of useless energy used up. To wake up everyday and post or think of hating the Cubs or any team at that level is wated time and energy.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    Heave the Hawk lol

  • John this is a great article but one thing. The Patriots are the best run franchise in sports and I am surprised other teams do not try to emulate them, including the Cubs.

  • Not much Cubs hate here on the West Coast (too many transplants here for that) but I definitely hear the 'young and cocky' label a lot. Yeah, I can definitely see that from a non-Cub perspective. But John you're 100% right. The Cubs are good, young, and look like they're having fun doing it. That's naturally gonna stir up the old guard.

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