This story in today’s Chicago Sun Times got me to thinking, which in itself is a big deal early on a Sunday morning.
Cubs fans are hopeful beyond reason
Cubs fans have no grounds to keep
believing, but they can’t help it
May 16, 2010
Sports Illustrated recently ran a story about new Cubs chairman Tom
Ricketts, which is to say it ran a story about hope.
But any story about hope and the Cubs is a story about a historical
record that recommends proceeding in an orderly fashion to the
The piece was featured inside the magazine, so we don’t know which
jinx is stronger: SI’s infamous cover jinx or the Cubs’ tendency to jinx
everything they touch.
Talk about a battle of titans. Would Ricketts have suffered a torn
rotator cuff if he had appeared on the cover, or would Sports
Illustrated have declared bankruptcy immediately after running his
As stories about the Cubs often do, this one ended with someone in
the organization saying he was tired of being on the losing end of
baseball games. That someone was Ricketts, and there was almost
bewilderment in his quote, as though he couldn’t quite believe what he
was seeing, which is impossible, seeing as how he was a bruised Cubs fan
well before his family bought the team.Law of averages doesn’t apply
The Cubs are 15-22 heading into their game today against the
Pittsburgh Pirates. The season is not over, but it does have a familiar
patina of futility to it. It’s only May, but there’s already something
ominous about this season. Perhaps it’s Tom Skilling and those storm
clouds over there.
I’m not asking Cubs fans to believe in jinxes, curses or fairy-tale
ogres, but I do wonder if you believe in the possibility that your
team’s century-plus dry spell might stretch to a Buzz Lightyear-like
infinity and beyond.
Do you think the Cubs will win a World Series in your lifetime or
If you answered yes, the natural companion question is: Why in the
world would you think that?
The law of averages? No, sorry. The law of averages has declared
definitively that it doesn’t like the Cubs. One hundred and two years
since the last World Series title would appear to be impossible. But you
Cubs fans know better, don’t you?
New ownership? The Ricketts family is saying and doing all the right
things. It is spending money, just as Tribune Co. did in the latter
years of its ownership of the team. But it’s much too early to know what
this group is all about.
Please, give me something conclusive to go on, something besides your
vague feelings of hope and possibility.
An improving farm system? The thought that a natural disaster will
wipe out half of all major-league teams in 2045? The presence of Starlin
It’s a little early to put that on the kid shortstop’s shoulders, no?
You don’t have anything but hope, which makes you like fans of most
other teams. But many of those fans at least can point to a championship
team somewhere in their past and say: ”There. That’s why I believe. I
know what it takes for my team to win. I’ve witnessed it or my parents
witnessed it. It can be done again.”
A Cubs fan only can tell you how it feels to pick at scabs.
Even by Cubs standards, what has happened so far has been bizarre.
Alfonso Soriano is hitting; Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez aren’t. Carlos
Zambrano is pitching out of the bullpen — and not particularly well.
After starting 4-4, in their last 29 games heading into today, the
Cubs had, in order, lost five of six, won five of six, lost three, won
three and lost nine of 11.
Manager Lou Piniella, the periodic stubble on his chin suggesting
sleepless nights, has appeared to be at his wits’ end more than a few
times. Before the game Friday, though, he was positively chipper. He saw
hope — that word again — in the Cubs’ periodic offensive struggles.
”I still remain confident that we’re going to do it,” he said. ”I
really do. It gets a little frustrating at times, but truthfully, in my
heart of hearts, I believe that we’re going to hit and we’re going to
score runs and get this thing moving in the right direction more
consistently.”‘I love the big lugs’
There is no numbness to you Cubs fans. All the losing hasn’t left you
with a high pain threshold. You still bleed at the first hint of an
extended losing streak.
In the first inning Friday, the crowd at Wrigley Field booed Cubs
pitcher Tom Gorzelanny when he walked a batter after giving up three
consecutive hits and a run. And the fans booed Zambrano after he gave up
a three-run home run in the eighth.
Piniella said he heard from Cubs fans as he walked in the city on his
day off Thursday.
”They’re supportive, but with a little anxiety in their voice,” he
Asking a Cubs fan why he continues to support the team is like asking
a table leg why it supports the table. It just does.
What if you saw the future unfolding before you and learned the Cubs
never would win a World Series? Would you give up on them or offer an
”I wish I knew how to quit you” worthy of ”Brokeback Mountain”?
I’m guessing you’d say, ”What are you gonna do? I love the big
The SI story did say the Cubs are eating healthier food in their
clubhouse this season. See? There is hope.
I’m honestly beginning to wonder how much longer I can take this abuse from my heroes.