Each new season brings hope, and the 2016 season brought a tremendous amount for the National League team from Chicago. They touted the reigning NL Cy Young winner along with a young, powerful lineup, but the franchise also carries baggage. David R. McCullough offers a thoughtful prayer to the Chicago Cubs and their fans during the most promising playoff chase they’ve had in over a decade.
Praise be unto you for this magical season that we are receiving. It’s been a lot of fun. Home runs are up – again – and that’s made the casual fans take notice. I know we complain a lot about the bandwagon hopping “pink hats,” but we’re never really serious. It is a good thing they are interested and willing to listen to us discuss ERA+ or why PITCHf/x-derived graphics and information are the Rosetta Stone for pitching analysis. Thank you for the homers – really.
I am contacting you, O! Baseball Gods, because I happened to look at the standings this morning. I know, I know – it’s August and with the second wild card, lots of teams still have World Series dreams. Again – you are merciful and generous, oh great gods of the diamond. Thanks, really.
No, this is about the Cubs. The first team to win 70 games this season are the star-crossed and some-would-say-cursed North Siders from Chicago. You can’t be a baseball fan and not care, in some way, about the unending agony of Cubs fans. That doesn’t mean you need to be sympathetic; at 107 years, the championship drought is the longest in American sports and rooting for the Cubs misery to continue is a very defensible position, especially for Cards fans. But you can’t know, and like, any Cubs fans without knowing “they think this is the year” – and that, of course, means it could happen again.
Oh wise and benevolent Baseball Gods, please do not do this again:
I beg you. I grew up a Red Sox fan. I know the yearning for a World Series title that stretches back generations. I wrote a tiny piece of Win It For. I buried grandparents who told me they wished they could see the Sox win. I became a baseball diehard – a worshipper of you, the Baseball Gods – during the very high-highs of the 1986 playoffs… and the very low-lows. I know from 2004 the release of winning, the joy of seeing the top of the mountain, the ecstasy of exorcising the twin demons of expectation and ennui.
Please, Baseball Gods – don’t yank out the carpet on Cubs fans again. There’s a generation now – the post-Bartman crowd – who have to endure schmucks like me touristing their pain. There’s poor Bartman himself, who has had a rough time living down the ignominy brought on by being a doofus fan. Seriously, that guy had his whole life destroyed, Bill Buckner-style – and he was just a guy who bought the wrong ticket.
He sorta tried to get out of the way. Contrast that with the behavior of some fans and tell me he deserved death threats and harassment. Moises Alou’s reaction – while certainly not in the realm of Joey Votto’s reaction when a fan doesn’t get out of the way – didn’t help poor Steve. But really, nothing could have helped poor Steve. Enlightened followers of the Baseball Gods know you were truly offended by how Dusty Baker had run Wood and Prior – their twin aces – into the ground and decided Houston would advance.
So, I beg of you: don’t be a Lucy and pull out the ball again. Please have them lose after a thrilling pennant race because Anthony Rizzo can’t hit Alex Reyes’s curveball – something baseball-related. No shenanigans. No foul pops, no dribblers up the first base line – play it straight. If this isn’t the Cubbies year, give their fans a clean ending. Give them a baseball reason that allows their diehards to obsess over baseball in the off-season. Not a dreadful ending that makes a bleak Chicago winter look wonderful in comparison.
Baseball Gods, you give us so much. If you were to choose this year to give the Cubs and their fans the victory they so desperately desire, that’d be okay too. Just make sure you make ‘em sweat it out and earn it. If we Red Sox fans had to go through the Yankees, shouldn’t the Cubs have to go through the Cardinals?
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