Some say it is a dying sport. It will soon be viewed much like the burned out wreckage that Boxing has become, where every once in a while Americans will watch on the oft chance that history might be repeated or we hear the snippets of the immortal verbiage "Down goes Frazier!!" echoed by the iconic Howard Cosell that makes us remember that it was once the "Sport of Kings." Baseball doesn't loom as large on the American landscape as it once did; however, it is not going to go quietly into the night until one fan base has their say so. Cubbies.
Admiration is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Cubs fans, due mostly to their unflappable support of a team that hasn't given them a lot to root for, these oh...so many years. Unadulterated pity is the second most common emotion and pure scorn is the third as you realize that by seasons end, they'll have their beating hearts ripped from their bodies once again, and will be left pondering during those cold, blustery Chicago winters why God hates them so...they are literally, sports version of the Bible's "Job."
As I write this on the second day of the 2010 Major League season I sadly report that my Bravos ripped the Cubs 16-5 on opening day. Lets face it folks, it's one thing to be a Red Sox fan and having to endure the "Curse of the Bambino" and not to have won a World Series since 1918, but they at least got there on multiple occasions and have been competitive...and during this first decade of the new millenia won 2 titles in 2004 and 2007. The Cubs have not even graced the Fall Classic since 1946 and their last championship was 1908. Um...that's 102 years of "suckdom!"
Seriously, what is the most memorable thing you know about the Cubs? Off the top of my head, the late voice of Harry Caray singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch and that they reside in venerable Wrigley Field with Ivy covered brick walls in the outfield. When the first thing you think of when talking about a team isn't championships...or that the most popular mode of transportation when they did win one was the Horse and Buggy...you've got some major problems. Really, does anyone have a deep seated resentment of this team? I honestly and truly hate the damn Yankees and anything associated to UNC-CH but how can anyone hate these guys? Here's the kicker: Their complete success at being inept has allowed them to become the poster child for the ubiquitous "lovable loser," and has garnered them legions of fans. Which makes them the perfect team to pull for if you enjoy despair and misery. There must be hoards of miserable people in the United States because I would rank their numbers just behind the damn Yankees and Red Sox. I'm willing to bet that we all know of at least one Cubs fan that would die to have their ashes scattered over that ballpark.
That someone for me is my boss Barney. Get this: He's not from Chicago...which blows my mind as to how he even wound up as a Cubs Fan. Barney hails from Tobaccoville, NC. I just don't envision that little hamlet being this deep rooted haven for misplaced Cub fans nor would I suspect, that it has the technological capability of reaching the Cubs radio broadcast or TV affiliate. Times have changed though, and Cable and Satellite have made it a smaller world...but come on, man! He comes from the middle of BFE, North Cacalacky, and is a Cubs fan?
Barney is the engineer that I dream of being...which is why he is probably my boss...he is quite capable in our field and creates spreadsheets that boggle my mind...I know, that doesn't take a whole helluva lot...but you get the picture. There is one other thing about him that I haven't told...he is a fine graduate of NC STATE University, as is yours truly...which only means he's very good with numbers and has probably driven a tractor or two in his lifetime. Some of you have already figured out where I'm going with this, but for the rest of you...when you combine the magnitude of losing that the Cubs have heaped upon you with the utter despair of being a Wolfpack Fan since Jimmy V was run out of town 30 years ago your dealing with universal forces that Zeus himself couldn't conjure up. Appearance wise Barney seems like a normal individual, he's got a great family, wife and kids that love and adore him. He's very active in the community with his church and is also the manager of his son's T-Ball team, but deep inside this man is a burning rage that can only be doused by a singular championship from one of his beloved teams. From where I'm sitting I don't see that happening anytime soon and that is only going to fuel the fire in this poor man's soul.
I get Barney for a multitude of reasons...which is why if he should ever lose his friggin mind at work...I'm going to be the only one to walk away with just a limp. I lived with a Cubs fan whilst I was growing up in the form of dear 'ole dad. Henry C. Laugisch was really from Chicago and often he would tell us of the stories of visiting friends who lived next to Wriggly Field and watching the games from their balconies...he didn't mention anything about the cubs losing, but it was implied. Dad wasn't a die hard Cubbie as Barney is today, but he would at least keep track of them when they were playing well and tell us "this is the year!!" Sadly, he and millions of cubbies never got to experience that one fleeting moment.
Personally, I think the Cubs and their intensely loyal fans have suffered enough...can you imagine what would happen if they did win the series? My hat goes off to you...Cubbies...and without a doubt I will root for 'em when they're not playing Atlanta this year but maybe this is how it's suppose to be...that one constant you can always count on like lightening after thunder, the changing of the seasons and the migration of birds. Good luck Cubs, America is pulling for you.