I wasn’t going to say anything. But after having to read multiple recent articles in my old hometown Chicago Tribune discussing – in seriousness! – either the changing of loyalty from Cubs to Sox, or the out-and-out abandonment of Chicago Cubs fandom, in the wake of Joe Ricketts’, Addison Russell’s, Daniel Murphy’s and Aroldis Chapman’s (yes, we’re still talking about that, but it’s OK) collective D-baggery and the right-wing political leanings of the broadcast group connected to the new Cubs cable network…I couldn’t stay silent.
The last straw was Eric Zorn. I shouldn’t let this guy get to me, considering that he admits in his column that he blew off his hometown Detroit Tigers to become a Cubs fan when he moved to Chicago, which to me is a violation that costs you your Sports Fan Card to begin with. His article reminded me of all the times I got asked, since relocating to Philadelphia for work in 2002, why didn’t I become an Eagles or Phillies fan? It’s been a while since some a-hole threw that at me, but the idea of de-affiliating with my lifelong favorite team for ANY reason – geographic distance or off-the-field bullish*t – makes bile bubble up in my body.
ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?!?!?
Look, I don’t endorse any gun-toting woman-beaters or domestic abusers or racists or homophobes and, sorry for getting political here, I am playing for the opposite team of anyone trying to re-elect Trump. I am an intelligent, opinionated woman in addition to being a former (female) sports reporter, and I will never minimize the relationship between sports and social issues or the importance of eradicating prejudice and fighting for equality in every segment of society.
If I was going to stop supporting a team because it employed or was run by rich jerks with backward attitudes and heads up their own asses, or because certain segments of the fan base acted like savages (Steve Bartman, I never blamed you for anything, my man!) I would not be able to support any team in the history of sports. Tell me I’m wrong.
The Cubs…the Cubbies…to me, they are my blood. They are part of me, a kid born in Evanston, IL, on Opening Day 1978. The Chicago National League Ball Club is a symbol of my home and family and everything I love. Always has been, always will be.
What that red ‘C’ and the various incarnations of the Cubbie bear logo symbolize transcends any player or owner or TV deal – although, to be honest, if the Cubbies played on a premium cable network when my husband and I were growing up in the 80s, the two of us would’ve never become friends. He grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania watching Harry Caray and Steve Stone call games on WGN every day after school, and living in a region where the “hometown MLB team” was up for grabs between Philly and New York, he chose those lovable losers. God bless him.
The Cubs are what we bonded over when we first met at the newspaper here in Bucks County, and we ended up getting hitched at a Cubs-themed wedding in July 2007 at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant on South Michigan Ave., after a combined bachelor/bachelorette party at Cubs-Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field the day before.
My daddy, who cut class at Niles West High School in 1969 to sit in the bleachers, taught me to love the Cubs. He had season tickets for a good chunk of my childhood, and I literally remember nothing about those years except walking out from the tunnel into the sunshine at that breathtaking ballpark and watching my guys run out on the field while singing along to Van Halen’s “Jump” and Harry’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
My mommy, who cut school to attend games along with her high school sweetheart, took me to games when I was a teenager with our good friends from church, The Vragels, and we would sit through some of the leanest years in team history enjoying the f*ck out of ourselves making up silly nicknames for players – Chuck “Worms for Lips” McElroy, where you at? – eating malted milk cups with little wooden spoony things and taking bets on which unsuspecting fans near us would get hit in the head by the peanut bags sailing down from the upper deck (we called those people “lucky men.” Idk, we were dorks…)
I don’t want to give you my resume, but I attended the 1998 NLDS finale at Wrigley while I was a student at Northwestern, traveled to Florida in 2003 for Game 5 of the NLCS, was at Wrigley to see the Mets sweep us in the 2015 NLCS, then back again to see us beat Clayton Kershaw and LA and reach the World Series the following year. We drove to Cleveland for Game 7 of the 2016 World Series a couple weeks later. We were at the only win of the 2017 NLCS, when my boy Javy Baez hit two dingers and Wade Davis somehow didn’t implode.
But the wins and losses, losses and wins – many more losses than wins – aren’t really what being a Cubs fan is all about. It never was, never will be.
When I think of the Cubs, I don’t think of Greg Maddux or Mark Grace or Javy or Kris Bryant or Theo Epstein or the Tribune Company or the Ricketts-es. I think of that park, the ‘W’ flag (that I have tattooed on my back, BTW) and all the people I’ve high-fived, from complete strangers sitting in front, alongside and behind me, to my friends and relatives, celebrating those exhilarating moments when a simple baseball game infused our mundane lives with electricity. Winning the World Series was beyond amazing, but we would’ve had those moments anyway, no matter what.
When I think of the Cubs, I think of the people we met at spring training in Mesa last year, people from all over the country who, like us, traveled a long way and spent a lot of money to worship at the altar of Cubdom. It was, indeed, a religious experience for me, not because of any of the players we had on the field or executives up in the luxury boxes, but because of the other people in the stands. There is nothing like that feeling of camaraderie you share with people who can understand who you are and where you’re from with very little actual interaction. Having not lived at home in Illinois since I graduated college, that feeling is especially precious.
You know, for someone who didn’t want to say anything, I’ve said a whole awful lot. The main point I want to convey is, I’ll abandon the Cubs or switch loyalties to any non-Chicago sports team (Sox don’t count) NEVER TIMES INFINITY. Not before death, not after. The Cubs are who I am, and if you decide you don’t like them anymore, that’s fine.
Your idea of what constitutes a true sports fan just differs from mine. It’s like the distance between Chicago and Philadelphia, at least.