Who can say why I ever started loving the Chicago Cubs? The identifying factors are plain enough. They were on free TV. My mom liked them. I grew up near Chicago. I also tend to dive headfirst into emotional obsessions, so I guess it’s no great mystery I fell for the first team that would have me.
Be it loyalty or pure, masochistic addiction, I have stuck with this team for almost 30 years. Along the way, I’ve developed enough reasons (very few of them win-related) to feel okay about this baseball relationship. My first baseball game was at Wrigley with my mom. My dad took me to games despite his disinterest in baseball. I’ve watched games with my best friends. I’ve had terrible days redeemed by Cubs wins. I’ve had otherwise pleasant days ruined by Cub losses. I got engaged after (not at) a Cubs game. I’ve skipped school and work to watch Cubs games. I’ve watched my two sons begin to cheer for them two, may DeRosa forgive me.
None of that makes the Cubs the right team to cheer for, but all of it together permanently binds this team to a lot of my fondest memories. I don’t think being a Cubs fan is a way of life, but it’s definitely part of my life, and not a part I’m willing to give up. I love this team.
But all along the way, I’ve never loved the front office. I didn’t fall in love with the way the players got along off the field. As a kid, I didn’t pay one cent of regard to the expectations of the media. I never based my Cubbie affections on Leon Durham’s disposition after a tough loss. When Lee Elia cursed the entire city, I didn’t care. As much as I’d like to see the off-field stuff go well and the front office to make excellent decisions, I’m not bailing on the team on account of non-baseball shenanigans.
In fact, there’s a lot to love about the shenanigans. When Andre Dawson tried to kill Eric Show, I thought it was awesome. When Don Zimmer argued like a buffoon until I thought his left eye was going to pop out, I laughed. I loved it when Sandberg circled the bases stone-faced and I loved it when Sammy Sosa hopped and blew kisses to the camera. The behavior of the players and managers was something to enjoy, not emulate. I understood that as a little kid, and I don’t know why I should lose sight of it now. It’s great drama. Everybody has their opinions on who’s to blame or who to side with, but I see no reason why the Cubs’ rendition of Melrose Place should interfere with my enjoyment of losing baseball.
I never demanded the Cubs to be great people. I obviously don’t base my allegiance on their knack for winning. I love the Cubs, not because it’s the smart thing to do, but because . . . it’s something to do. Somewhere along the way from the advent of sports talk radio to Cubs chat rooms to Twitter to this dumb blog, I seem to have let the extraneous topics that are sometimes fun to talk about distract me from the main thing I actually care about: baseball.
It is nice to watch a game. There are some fun players on this team, and I hope I’ll be watching them for awhile. Having been a Bulls fan in the ’90s, I know what it’s like to cheer for the best team in the world. There’s still something strangely satisfying about cheering for my team, the Cubs, the first team in any sport I ever cared about. The Cubs are bad, some of their best players are jerks, and they’re organization is run by idiots. But they are my bad, jerky idiots. I love ’em.