2016 has been a historic year in lifting sporting curses. But I contend that what they’ve lost outweights what they’ve won.
As five-million Cubbites mashed themselves into one place to cheer on a team who exhumed the corpse of over a century of angst, I wondered if anyone in the crowd had stopped to ask “where to now?”
See anyone you know? Just a lazy 5 million people celebrating the Cubs World Series win… pic.twitter.com/snJ97Ka55a
— Sportsbet.com.au (@sportsbetcomau) November 5, 2016
For, after the booze and the memory of impuslive victory sexual conquest wears off following the greatest sporting wake of all time, ultimately, all that they’re left with, is death.
You see, Chicago, and those who support the Cubs, are regarded as losers. And through generations of assumption, that’s what they became. The Biff Loman of baseball. The joke around Chicago was rhetorical. Their historic field was synonymous with a good time. To a team visiting Wrigley Field, aka “The Friendly Confines”, the home support, which opposed you, welcomed you, and you were essentially guaranteed a win. Their most enduring player, tagged with the epithet “Mr Cubs”, was Ernie Banks, a man who loved the game so much he established the famous aphorism “Let’s play two”, and two he played – and he probably lost both. Despite Banks’ prodigious ability to flog a ball over a fence, never reached the World Series, and when he passed away recently, he was so broke that the Cubs had to cover his funeral.
That’s what Cubs baseball was. A proud tradition of never making it. This is best espoused by columnist/Cubs crank George Will, who said “I grew up in central Illinois midway between Chicago and St. Louis and I made an historic blunder. All my friends became Cardinals fans and grew up happy and liberal and I became a Cubs fan and grew up embittered and conservative.” However, now that they’ve finally scaled Everest, ultimately the only way, of course, is down. However, as they descend, they do so as Champions, and that’s a pickle. As the loserish Baseball aphorism goes, purported by the long suffering fans of Red Sox and Brooklyn Dodgers before them, “There’s always next year”. Well, as it dawns on the Windy Apple this week, next year is here, and while history is being rewritten, it will be marked in a different colour pen.
There’s something to be said for being loved as losers, especially in the American states, where draws are verboten, evidenced recently by two NFL games finishing in a draw, which saw sportswriters professing that the sky was breaking in twain, and hell riding after it. As Mae West said “too much of a good thing is wonderful”, and I found that quote to disagree with her. The next five years of Chicago Cubs baseball, where they follow an annoying Yankees level of success will leave a bad taste in the mouth, and substantially knock the polish of their historic triumph back in ’16.
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I fear something beautiful was lost now that the Cubs are planted as Winners in collective psyche. There’s something infinitely romantic about the mortal generations of families loving something that didn’t love them back, scores of dead relatives linked in skeletal arms by the laurels of disappointment. You can’t buy that lack of success. They tried, but failed. And that’s whats important. I fear the only way out for the Cubs is to go vintage Cubs, and never win another series, so those in 2124 have something to long for. A Cubs championship made relevant by a century of pain. Like the good old days.
On a larger note, this particular year has been unkind to ambition.
Ireland’s rugby team beat New Zealand All Blacks for the first time, running out 40-29 winners in Chicago https://t.co/fQ09UXC1G3
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) November 5, 2016
With the Cubs 108-year wait, add the sporting droughts that eventually saw rain.
The 111 years it took Ireland beat the All Blacks
135 for Leicester City’s Premiership Win
46 Cleveland Cavaliers NBA ring
62 Western Bulldogs AFL flag
50 Cronulla Sharks NRL thingo
33 Portugal European Football Championship
This totals 545 years of combined sporting anguish suddenly removed. But the question is, as so much was given to the respective teams, for so long, does the trophy dropped in the ocean of despair make waves, rippling with concentric circles in the change it wrought? Or does it seem minute in such a wide expanse of the chartered waters of fandom?
Look nowhere else but to Bill Murray, Cubs uberfan, who openly wept at the fictional landscape turned topographical fact. As the tears of a clown so often are: happy on the outside, anything but within. Perhaps reflecting in his darkest corners not on the history that was made, but rather the history of what was lost.