It's truly amazing, the "rooting for clothes" principle, made famous by comedian Jerry Seinfield, we see in sports from time to time. When the Chicago Cubs acquired Daniel Murphy from the Washington Nationals last month, it was the perfect opportunity to put that theory to the test.
While some Cubs fans have softened their stance on Murphy since the trade, it's hard to imagine a Cub fan supporting Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader if he were to move to the team about 90 minutes south on I-94. Like Murphy, Hader has publicly expressed anti-gay sentiments in the past. Unlike Murphy, Hader's remarks were blatantly hostile.
It's pennant race time and that means emotions are high all around. During this exciting, but also stressful time, individual players are both lionized and demonized, with very little middle ground in between. The Cubs remain the favorite among all National League teams to reach the postseason, but their lead over neighboring Milwaukee is down to just a skinny game.
Chicago still has the best record in the NL, but losing two out of three versus the Brew Crew at Wrigley Field this week is certainly cause for concern. The worst Cubs killer in the game right now? Well, Murphy used to be able to potentially claim that designation, but now you could probably give the honor to Hader, who in addition to his homophobic public statements has displayed egregiously offensive racism as well.
Hader came under fire in mid-season when past tweets surfaced in which he said, among other things: "White power," "I hate gay people," and "Hahahahahah yeah to bad I'm f***ing grounded n***** can't do s***."
He has since apologized for these remarks and deleted his Twitter account. That was apparently enough for Brewers fans, who gave him a standing ovation in his very first appearance on the mound in the wake of this development. Would they give a warm welcome to a young man who expressed homophobia and bigotry if he weren't so dominant against the Cubs, a team so extremely reviled by the Brewers fan base?
The Cubs' red, white and blue seems to bring out the best in Hader, so if the Brewers do go on and win the National League Central division, permanently making up the five game deficit that they were facing just last week. As ESPN.com writes, "remember the two innings Josh Hader threw against the Chicago Cubs on Monday night."
Josh Hader is the perfect figure of scorn and derision for Cubs fans, as he dominates their favorite team on the field, and he has presented himself as a pretty disgusting person off of it. As we head down the stretch here to the playoffs, he'll no doubt be a primary source of ire in Cubs fans, and that says a lot considering that the team's true arch-rivals (pun intended) in St. Louis are in the pennant race as well.
The Cardinals are only 3.5 games behind the Cubs right now in the race for the division, but right now the typical acrimony for them will be directed elsewhere.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.
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Filed under: Current Events