Welcome to the city of Chicago on the 100thanniversary of the creation of Wrigley Field, the home of a famous baseball team called the Chicago Cubs. There is a North Side of the city and there is a South Side. And despite the lyrics of the popular song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” it is the North Side of Chicago that is “the baddest part of town."
Why? Because of two four letter words, which when strung together sound like this: CUBS SUCK! Every cub fan knows this but you can measure the mood or mental state of a cub fan by the way he or she intones those two words.
There is the mood of low expectations. It is such a pleasurable throwback being in Wrigley Field (the Ivy, the pastoral atmosphere, the quaint ground rules, the day games when you cut class or skip work) it doesn’t really matter if you win. CUBS SUCK, so what – they’re loveable losers. Relax and enjoy it. It is even enjoyable for the players - those loveable losers – for the pressure is off; they don’t have to worry about playing poorly. After all, and in the beginning, was there competition in the Garden of Eden; or an electric scoreboard; or the demands of modern life?
Then there is the mood of frustrated utopian dreamers. CUBS SUCK! That utopian dream of course is one of blissful redemption in baseball heaven – a kind of End Time for the sport when we get to replay the 1918 World Series. Remember 1918? That was the year when Babe Ruth’s Boston Red Sox defeated the Cubs, who played their World Series home games in Comisky Park rather than Wrigley because the owners of the Cubs, with dollars signs in their eyes, decided to abandoned Eden for the larger and more financially lucrative stadium on the South Side. Even then money made the world go round. You can see why redemption is necessary.
And finally there is the mood of existential crisis, an anxiety every cub fan experiences from time to time – a momentary loss of faith – the fleeting perception of a utterly meaningless baseball season in which baseball outcomes seems unrelated to skill or strategy, and even the presence of Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg or Andre Dawson just doesn’t seem to matter. CUBS SUCK – baseball as nothing more than the roll of some dice where it is just statistically normal that someone will always be on the bottom tail of a random (and hence meaningless) distribution.
Like everyone else in the world Cub fans want to be edified by their miseries and string of losses. So they search for explanations for their suffering. Some fans blame themselves for not being loyal enough to their lovable losers - intense feelings of guilt get generated by the troubling fantasy that the losers may just be ridiculous or pathetic.
Some fans search for others to blame – like Steve Bartman, the clueless fan who reached into the field, disrupted a possible out and is blamed for keeping a talent packed Cubs team from advancing to the 2003 World Series. Or they invoke a curse or hex placed on the team in 1945 by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern because his pet goat (who had purchased a ticket for a World Series home game) was supposedly barred from entrance into the stadium. Forget the curse – it is nonsense - a piece of false consciousness or denial which has as little validity as the popular fiction that Chicago is “the windy city.” Boston and New York are windier than Chicago and Chicago isn’t even in the top 100 cities when it comes to average wind velocity. And the Cubs sucked long before 1945.