Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Warning Track: Why Cubs Fans are the Greatest Fans in Baseball

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The Warning Track:

Why Cubs Fans are the Greatest Fans in Baseball

There are many great fan bases all across the sports landscape that are worth mentioning.  However, in my opinion, no fans are more loyal or passionate about their team than the Chicago Cubs fans.

First lets take a moment to recognize a couple of the other great fan bases there are across the baseball world.  Obviously the first city that comes to mind when it comes to Fandemonium is the City of Boston.

Boston Red Sox

Boston fans had suffered through one of the longest droughts in baseball history.  They had been dealing with the curse of Babe Ruth lingering over their heads since 1918.  So many times they had suffered through losses of historical fashion.  The Bill Buckner incident in 1986 (no need to explain this).  The time manager Grady Little left a tiring Martinez in for the eighth, a controversial move which is still talked about years later.   After the Cy Young Award winner Martinez convinced his coach he could finish it, he gave up a double to Derek Jeter and a single to Bernie Williams, prompting Little to make a visit to the mound. Again Little surprised fans when he left Martinez in the game only to see him give up a double to Matsui and a double to Jorge Posada to tie the game, sending it to extra innings. Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth and pitched three shutout innings and the dreaded Yankees would finish them off in extra innings with a Walk-off home run by pinch hitter Aaron Boone.  However, in recent years the Red Sox fans have tasted success on a rather regular basis.  They broke the so-called Curse of the Bambino in 2004 and would go on to win in 2007 and again in 2013.  Although Red Sox fans are great I will explain later why they are not the greatest fans in baseball.

Cleveland Indians

If we were talking about the entire sports world there is no doubt that the City of Cleveland has suffered for years to have a champion.  However, this conversation is about baseball.  The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948, but the Indians haven’t had a completely miserable 67 seasons of baseball.  I am sure to the fans it hasn’t seemed all that pleasant, but they have had some success over the years.  In 1954 they made an appearance in the World Series before being swept by Willie Mays and the Giants. In 1996 they reached the Series again before losing to the Atlanta Braves.  In 1997 they lost in Game 7 of the World Series to the Florida marlins.  In 2007 they had a historical collapse when they won 96 games and blew a 3-1 lead to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.  Now again in 2016 they are leading their division and look like a potential World Series bound team.  Again I must say that the Cleveland Indian fans have shown themselves to be one of the great fan bases, but I will explain again why they are not the best in baseball.

And Now The Chicago Cubs

Lets just get to the first fact of the matter.  No team in baseball has suffered longer without a World Series win than the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, yes that’s right, if you do the math it adds up to 108 years without a championship.  Now I explained earlier that I would delve into why Cubs fans are the greatest fans in baseball and to do that we must take a look back to the 1945 season.  1945 was the last time the Chicago Cubs even made a World Series. This was the year that Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs’ home ballpark of Wrigley Field because the odor of his pet goat named Murphy was bothering other fans.  Sianis would become so angry that he would declare that the Cubs would never win again.

Now here is where I start with my case for Cubs fans being the greatest.  It is bad enough to suffer through 108 years without a championship, but on top of that they get the Curse of the Billie Goat.  I mean at least the Red Sox fans got a curse placed on them that carries the name of one of the greatest players of all time (Babe Ruth).  Not Cubs fans though, they have constantly been reminded that they cannot win it all because of a goat named Murphy.

Now I move on to another reason Cubs fans are the greatest fans.  As we discussed earlier we have saw major collapses by teams like the Red Sox and the Indians, but the Chicago Cubs have a unique way of drawing the strangest circumstances to their playoff runs.  In 1969 the Cubs would add another animal to the mix.  With the Cubs leading the division by 7 games in late August, a stray black cat wandered on the field.  It would make its way to the Cubs on deck circle and Linger behind future Hall of Fame third baseman Ron Santo.  After this incident the Cubs would suffer an epic collapse and go on to lose the division lead to the New York Mets.

The Cubs fans would continue to wait 39 years to see their team make the playoffs again.  In 1984 the Cubs would square up against the San Diego Padres in a 5 game series for the NLCS.  The Cubs would cruise to victories in games 1 and 2 by scores of 13-0 and 4-2.  Wrigley was electric as it looked like the Cubs might finally make it to the World Series.  Hold it right there though, because the Padres would take games 3 and 4 and set up a winner take all game 5.  This is when that stinking Billie Goat would show itself again.  In the bottom of the 7th inning, with the Cubs holding the lead they would see the unthinkable.  A routine ground ball to 1st baseman Leon Durham would roll right through his legs for an error.  This would allow a run to score and set up the end of the Cubs.  That’s right Boston fans, the Cubs had a Bill Buckner moment two years before you did.  The next ball would be a sharp ground ball to gold glove 2nd baseman, Ryne Sandberg that would take a mysterious hop over his head and allow the Padres to go on to defeat the Cubs.  This was the first time a team had come back from a 2-0 deficit and the last year for a 5 game series in the championship series.

The Cubs would again make the playoffs in 1989 and 1998 where they lost to the Giants 1-4 and then the Braves 0-3 in the NLDS.  Which now brings us to the next historical event for the Chicago Cubs.  We look to 2003 to discuss this event.  I know Cubs fans, just bare with me through this one, because talking about this will sting.

The Cubs were the Central division champs in 2003 and would get past the NLDS by defeating the Atlanta Braves 3 games to 2 and set up a matchup against the Wild Card winning Florida Marlins.  This series would start great for Cubs fans as they watched their team take 2 out of 3 down in Miami after winning 1 game at home.  Not only were the Cubs back home now in Wrigley, but they also had their two best pitchers, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, set to start games 6 and 7.  It was a no brainer; the Chicago Cubs were heading to the World Series.  After all, it would take a major catastrophe for them to lose now.

(insert major catastrophe here)

With the Cubs holding a 3-0 lead in the 8th inning and just 5 outs from a World Series, it happened.  Steve Bartman, a fan, reached over the wall on a foul ball down the 3rd baseline, preventing Moises Alou from making a play.  Next play, a routine double play ball to the best fielding shortstop in the National League, Alex Gonzalez, that he booted.  The Marlins would rally for 8 runs in the inning to win game 6 and would go on to take game 7.

So the curse continued.

The Cubs would make the playoffs again in 2007 and 2008 only to be swept in both series 0-3.

Now I know what many of you are thinking.  You are thinking “so what, the Cubs just suck”.  However, this debate is not about the Chicago Cubs.  It is about the Chicago Cubs fans.  The common denominator in all these historical failures is simply this.  Cub fans have an eternal endearing optimism for their team.  They even coined their own phrase of “There’s always next year.”  This is not just a catchy slogan made up by some drunk fan in the bleachers.  This is truly the way fans all across the country feel about their beloved Cubbies.  Cub fans have waited so long to see a World Series and have become the butt of many jokes over the years.  In fact I believe I have heard them all at this point.  No matter how much ridicule or mocking they receive, they always still show up to support their favorite team and never stop believing.

So here we are now, it’s 2016 and the Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball.  Many people are sitting around hoping for a collapse of some sort.  Many still crack jokes about how this is the Cubs and they just cant win.  This could all end up being true and Cub fans may continue to wait, but no matter what happens, the Wrigley faithful will never stop believing and never run out of hope.

I have always gave my daughter these little words of wisdom.

“Marry a Cubs fan, because they are loyal, forgiving, full of hope and are the thickest skinned people I know.”

After all, the World is a tough place and no fans are tougher or greater than Chicago Cubs fans.



Sonya Thompson/via Flickr