The barometer of sports is broken, and there’s no putting the air back in that sealed metal box.
The Cubs’ victory celebration following their first World Series triumph since Ford started rolling out Model T’s is our loss. It’ll eventually become theirs, too. They just don’t realize it yet.
Every year, every professional sports league in this country crowns a champion. Since each league contains some 30 teams, basic rules of probability dictate every team should win a title at least once every three decades. When one of them exceeds that math by such staggering heights, the fruitless quest only becomes more epic.
For the past 108 years, as other professional sports teams won championships, crumbled and rebuilt themselves several times over, as our country went through 18 presidents and sent troops off to seven wars, as our culture went from less than 10 percent of homes having telephones to almost 70 percent of us walking around with computers in our pockets, the Cubs have been the one constant. They always lost. For many of those years, they lost better than anyone else.
It’s wonderful but a little overwhelming. We’ve been good losers. I just hope we can be good winners.
Cubs fan Bill Murray
The Cubs lost so consistently, so predictably, and sometimes so deliciously, that losing became their identity. Lovable Losers became the identity of their fans. “There’s always next year” was nothing more than the world’s most hopeful lie.
That all changed Wednesday night, in 4 hours, 28 minutes of breathtaking baseball theater that included a 17-minute tarp delay, as the Cubs finally got over in one of history’s most memorable Game 7s, 8-7 over the Indians in 10 innings.
As surreal as it was to watch real-life baseball players dressed in Cubs uniforms dogpile on the infield, and as enjoyable as it was to see people in Chicago experience a moment they thought they’d never be alive to see, the euphoria does not last forever.
It wears off. Not for a few weeks or months, certainly. Maybe not even for a few years. But eventually, the feeling fades into a tingly memory. And what happens after that?
Eventually, the feeling fades into a tingly memory. And what happens after that?
The Cubs become like every other team and every other fan base in sports. The specialness goes away.
Now that the biggest, unlikeliest story of our lifetimes has been written – Cubs win the World Series – people like me might as well just put down our pens and close up our keyboards.
There’s just no way to surpass it.
Never again will we be able to read about 68-year-old men who drive hundreds of miles to be at his father’s graveside, just to pull up a chair and listen to Game 7 together. Nor will we watch videos of grandfathers finally opening a can of beer he’s kept in the fridge 32 years, just in case the Cubs won the World Series.
Certainly another Cubs championship wouldn’t tug those heartstrings, particularly next year. Gawd, that would only make things so much worse. Problem is, a roster loaded with young stars (i.e., Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell) and great starting pitching combined with whip-smart management and deep-pocketed owners means this may only be the beginning.
Can you imagine the Cubs winning four in five years like the Yankees of the late 1990s? It would be like Bambi shooting the hunter.
Can you imagine the Cubs winning back-to-back or … gulp, four in five years like the Yankees of the late 1990s? It would be like Bambi shooting the hunter.
We all saw what happened to the Red Sox. They went 86 years without a World Series parade, then held three in nine and transformed into their own Evil Empire, fan arrogance included.
And what about the Giants, whose 56-year drought was about half of what the Cubs had going? After three titles in consecutive even years, hordes of bandwagon-hoppers figured No. 4 was a foregone conclusion because of silly magic.
Winning changes everything. In this most extreme of cases, it alters the basic foundation on which all our sports beliefs are built.
69 years since Cardinals last won NFL championship, the new longest drought in pro sports
No one outside of Arizona cares that the Cardinals haven’t won an NFL championship or Super Bowl since 1947. The Indians could’ve ended a 68-year drought, but after what happened in the NBA Finals (gotta love the 3-1 symmetry) it’s probably only fair that hex continues. After that come the Sacramento Kings, whose last NBA title came in 1951 when they were the Rochester Royals.
Big whoop. Compared to the Cubs, those are mere potholes in the tarmac.
Even the team’s most ardent and visible fans aren’t sure how to process this new reflection in the upside-down mirror.
“The dream has come true,” Bill Murray told reporters following the clubhouse celebration. “It’s wonderful but a little overwhelming. We’ve been good losers. I just hope we can be good winners.”
The Cubs weren’t just good losers. They were the best at it, better than any team in history. It’s how we calibrated our universe.
Now the fabric of sports has a giant tear, and the only way to mend things is if it takes until 2124 before the Cubs win another.
The curse is dead. Long live the sequel.