Happy New Year, denizens. The past year had its negatives, but winning the World Series is something that will always stand out as a bright spot, no matter what else happened in 2016. I recently watched the World Series DVD for the first time, and I have to admit, I was tense again like I was watching the games for the first time.
For me, and the rest of Cubs fans, the paradigm has shifted mightily and I’m not sure when that will fully sink in. Like John wrote last week, we are treading into new territory.
With that comes the reaction of the rest of the baseball world. We saw some of that in the time that followed Game 7, especially those who thought that the celebrating needed to be tempered after only a few days.
And that takes us to what’s on my mind this week, so let’s get to it.
Get ready to be loathed?
On Sunday I came across this piece from Matt Marrone on ESPN.com, and while resisting the temptation to react to just the headline, I actually found the gist of the piece entertaining and, dare I say it, a nice reminder.
Marrone was right in that a lot of things have changed now for Cubs fans. In the coming seasons, the hope is that the Cubs will continue winning at a very high level, and if that happens, the way the Cubs and their fans are viewed will be almost unrecognizable compared to where it was just a couple of seasons ago.
But the idea of being hated slightly misses the point for a couple of reasons. First, because I can’t imagine Cubs fans anywhere care about that.
Why not? Over a century of failure and frustration. Years of 1908 jokes, Bartman references, people wearing goat masks to playoff games, and now we’re the ones supposed to care how other fanbases think of us? Come on. And some of what he expresses about how Cubs fans are seen had already taken hold before the World Series title.
Namely, the idea that we’ll suffer an onslaught of bandwagon fans or that it will be assumed that most of us are newly minted Cubs fans ourselves:
Everywhere you go, you’ll see Cubs hats. Casual fans are annoying, and they are fickle. They will give you a bad name (completely undeserved, of course).
And in general, so-called “bandwagon” fans are an easy target, but we forget two things: Fandom has to start somewhere for everyone, and latching on to a winning team is a logical time for that to happen, and that it can’t be expected that everyone will follow this team with the same fervor that many of us do. The die-hard Blackhawks fans have tolerated for close to a decade now the people like me who really only tune in to the postseason games.
The problem with Marrone’s assumption here is also that people haven’t already cast the characterization over Cubs fans that they are of the casual variety anyway. Wrigley has not-so-affectionately been referred to as a giant beer garden for a long time now, and even the current President has taken shots at Cubs fans when compared to their south side counterparts.
But in all, Marrone’s piece struck me as good-natured and mostly tongue-in-cheek. We’ll do our best not to be obnoxious about it, but at the same time, it’s going to be a while before I’ll forgive the guy in San Francisco wearing a goat mask or the guy in Cleveland holding up the “Bartman for President” and “Cubs ’84 and ’03 Chokers” signs.
In all, other fanbases have been laying it on pretty thick for a long time, so they can learn to tolerate exuberant Cubs fans for a little while longer.