When the Chicago Cubs visited Miller Park earlier this year, I engaged in some discussions with their fans about the state of their franchise versus the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s obvious the “Lovable Losers” are in a far better position right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the continued struggles to win (or even reach) the World Series.
Yes, they look like an unstoppable force right now, owning the best record in MLB at 47-22 entering play Wednesday. With a relentless offense ranked 2nd in scoring (5.35 runs/game) and a pitching staff on pace to break the single-season team ERA record (2.70), Chicago has outscored its opponents by 169 runs to potentially threaten the all-time record for run differential set by the 1937 New York Yankees (+411 runs).
With all these positive numbers coming out of Wrigley Field, it would be easy to crown the Cubs the champs now and stew about as Brewers fans – or fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Still, baseball is a funny game, so I would implore you to keep root, root, root against the Cubbies and feel no guilt about it.
Great team or not, there are reasons to sit back and soak in the Cubs’ past pain…for now:
Baseball Curses Are Fun To Believe In
While the logical side of my brain knows there isn’t an actual curse held over the Northsiders (or any team), it’s fun to find supernatural reasons a team can’t win it all. When the Boston Red Sox broke the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004, it knocked off some of the mystique.
The Cubs, however, still have Steve Bartman with his infamous headphones, turtleneck and deflection away from Moises Alou‘s urine-soaked hands. They have the black cat that ran around Ron Santo, kick-starting the Cubs’ collapse, ultimately blowing a an 8.5-game lead in mid-August.
And of course, the actual curse supposedly has to do with a goat. A tavern owner and his goat were kicked out of Wrigley Field during the Cubs’ last World Series appearance in 1945. He cursed the team by saying “they’d win no more.” They haven’t even made it back to the World Series since.
In 2015, Chicago owned a paltry 97-65 mark, but still came short of their ultimate goal. They were swept by the 90-72 New York Mets in the NLCS to end the year with a thud. Adding more intrigue to the curse last season was the incredible performance of the Mets’ Daniel Murphy in the NLCS. He had a HR in all 3 games, adding a .417 average and 1.628 OPS.
In reality, the name Murphy might be the actual curse.
When the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, the owner’s name was Charles Murphy. He was not a well-liked man and was left off the guest list for the celebration dinner, something he was quite upset about.
The famous goat in ’45? Well, his name was Murphy, too. In 1969 (the year of the black cat), the Cubs blew that big lead to the Mets whose GM was Johnny Murphy and broadcaster was Bob Murphy. Then in the 1984 NLCS, Chicago had a 2-0 series lead (best of 5), only to lose all three games at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego.
Hey, does anyone know what Steve Bartman’s middle name is?
Meanwhile, Game 5 of that ’84 series included a brutal error by first baseman Leon Durham, helping the Padres erase a 7th-inning deficit and go on to the Fall Classic. Durham was the first baseman because Bill Buckner was traded from Chicago to the Red Sox at the beginning of the season.
Buckner, of course, has the most famous between-the-legs error. When he committed that gaffe in the 1986 World Series, he was actually wearing a Cubs batting glove. Apparently curses have some crossover effect. Like I said…curses are fun! Why not keep the count going in the Windy City and make it 109 years – just for kicks and giggles.
From 2006-2014, The Brewers Had More Success
Since I was arguing on the side of Milwaukee against Cubs’ fans who would simply say the Brewers were awful, I made sure the have actual facts to shoot them down. Sure, the Cubs took an enormous step forward in 2015, but where were they the previous 9 seasons? From 2006-2014, the Brewers had 5 winnings seasons and went 740-718 for a .508 winning percentage.
In the same time, Chicago had only 3 winnings campaigns and went 677-779 (.465). Not to mention, Milwaukee also won more playoff series than the Cubs in that time frame.
In fact, Chicago never won a playoff game in that 9-year stretch, getting swept in both series they played. Milwaukee earned 6 playoff victories, and came just 2 wins shy of the World Series in 2011. The Brewers have no argument now, but how quickly Cubs’ backers forget.
Chicago Cubs Fans Are The Worst!
As a disclaimer, every fan base has their fair share of idiots and drunkards who can make games less enjoyable for everyone around them. With that said – Cubs fans are the worst. Well, technically the 2nd-worst behind Cardinals’ supporters (aka “Best Fans in Baseball”).
Anyway, ask any Brewers’ fan how those Cubs’ backers act when they infiltrate Miller Park. Don’t get me wrong, a quality fan base will always travel well to opposing ballparks; however, I’ve never seen a group – as a whole – behave so ridiculously obnoxious that even I wondered if I’d ever go to a Cubs-Brewers game again.
For one, they barely know anyone on the team or actually understand what’s going on. During the hey-day of Sammy Sosa mania, they would jump out of their seats in exuberant joy anytime the ball went skyward. Never mind it was foul by 500 feet or that he catcher was camped under the ball.
Somehow it became cool to call yourself a Cubs fan, regardless of knowledge, loyalty or competence. There’s a strange arrogance and elitist attitude from the lot of them – odd since they haven’t won a title since 1908, and until last year, had won only one playoff series since 1990.
Of course, I heard from many “Cubs fans” in May tell me they “haven’t paid much attention to them in the last 5 or 6 years, but they’ve been glued to the guys the last couple of seasons!”
For being the 3rd-largest market in the US, they seem to have an inordinate amount of fans who are of the fair-weather variety.
The Cubs Are Going To Be Scary Good For Years To Come
Here’s the reality, and why you should embrace every Cubs’ failure as much as you can. Take pleasure in the Cubs’ pain right now, because they look primed to be one of the best teams for a decade or more. They already have stud, young hitters up and down the lineup, and a couple of good-to-great veteran hurlers.
With Chicago’s wallet size, you better believe GM Theo Epstein will be able to snag another pitcher or two that he thinks is worth the money. It might even happen this year or in the offseason.
They are also so stocked with young talent, giving Chicago multiple avenues to collect impact pitchers and hitters as needed via trade. The 97 wins last season – and NLCS appearance – were slightly ahead of schedule, so now there is little reason to believe the Cubs aren’t going full steam ahead. Considering how they look in the middle of June, it’s a bit frightening.
The Brewers are a number of years away from truly competing, so unless you really think the Pirates or Cardinals can catch the Cubs for the NL Central title this year (doubtful), we can only hope that either A) The randomness of the playoffs works against the Cubs’ talent or B) The Cubs truly are cursed and the “baseball gods” will intervene whenever they see fit.
Both are unlikely – so enjoy this as possibly the last moment the Lovable Losers moniker will make any sense.
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