It's Autumn and time for annual competition among columnists about which city "deserves to win the World Series."
And because I'm from Chicago, if I enter the sweepstakes, I would be expected to say that the Cleveland Indians don't deserve to win the World Series, but the Chicago Cubs do because they're the world's most woe-begotten sports team. Or because Cleveland sucks and Chicago doesn't.
Legendary Daily News/Sun-Times/Tribune columnist Mike Royko did it in 1984 when the Cubs were in the playoffs against the Padres. Royko went after San Diego fans as underserving because they were, well, Californians. The column so stirred up the Padres that some people blame Royko for the Cubs losing the series.
The tradition continues today. A Tribune op-ed explains why Cleveland is more deserving. Rex Huppke acknowledges that everyone tries to get in on the act, and offers his own amusing version. Hell, I even did it when the White Sox played Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series. "Houston: 10 reasons why we're better than ya'll."
No more. Not for me.
It's as if we're supposed to cheer for a team because they are the biggest losers. Possessing the most pathetic record in Major League history. Because the Cubs fans have been suffering for oh-so-long and if there's a merciful God having his thumb on the scales of justice the Cubs will romp in four. He'll finally let the fans celebrate. Because the fans and the city are pitiful
Bill Savage considered this goofiness in the Spring 2011 Baseball Research Journal: " Cubs Fan Paradox: Why Would Anyone Root For Losers" Not sure he got it right; probably better to consult a psychologist to explain masochism. A college friend from Milwaukee, explaining why he wasn't a fan of the then-hometown team, the Braves, said he was Yankee fan because the New York team was "the best" that he always rooted for the best. Notice also that the loudest cheers from PGA galleries always are for the winners, not for some mope who cards a last-place score.
The Cubs have treated their fans like crap for lo these many years. Take my father. One-time owner P.K. Wrigley cared for a waded up, chewed piece of his gum stuck under a restaurant table than he did about the Cubs fans. The Chicago Tribune, the next owner, cared more for the corporate balance sheet than about the fans. The owners let "beautiful Wrigley Field" crumble into a dump.
And that "loyal" fan base? Oh sure. Revisit WGN-TV announcer Jack Brickhouse pleading with someone, anyone to come out to "Beautiful Wrigley Field" to enjoy a picnic, back in the days when attendance numbered in the four digits. When the neighborhood was decaying before it became a yuppie Mecca.
As a White Sox fan, you'd expect me, as a matter of jealousy, to hope that the Cubs would lose. I don't; I hope the Cubs win the Series. Not because Chicago is a better place than Cleveland. Not to comfort deserving fans. It's all beneath our dignity (at least what we've got left of it after years of Democratic rule has turned Chicago a monumental loser).
I'm sick of hearing how Chicago deserves it because the club, the fans and the town are pathetic. A woeful place, packed with deplorables. I don't need to hear which city is more deserving because of Chicago's or Cleveland's long drought of winning baseball teams. If I hear another sports writer, columnist, TV analyst or announcer once again review the awful history, and oh, how the fans finally deserve a win, you'll hear my scream.
If the Cubs deserve to be the champions of the world, they should win on their merits alone. Because they're the best team.
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