Baseball, Superstition and Loyalty: Ode to the Chicago Cubs…..

**WARNING: Most of what you are about to read sounds completely insane but there is a logical explanation: Fierce loyalty for one beloved baseball team, and the hopes and dreams of half the city of Chicago. And unicorn glitter**

On Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs were eliminated from the National League Championship Series in baseball. For what seemed like the thousandth’s time in the league’s over 100-year old history, Cubs fans around the world felt an emotion that we are all too familiar with; disappointment.

I’ve been a devoted Cubs fan for over 30 years. Living close to Chicago, the Cubs (and White Sox-but black and white stripes wash me out terribly) are the closest professional baseball teams in our area. My family and I were even lucky enough to attend a few Cubs games when I was a kid. I remember once I almost lost a Cubs hat after swinging it over the stands where we were sitting, right behind home plate. Blogger’s word of caution: Don’t swing a baseball hat by the brim over a tall railing-even if you are trying to get Darryl Strawberry’s attention! 😀

So yes, the love of baseball is literally in my blood. My maternal grandfather recently admitted that there was a point in his life that he considered trying to make it into the minor leagues. Although he ultimately chose farming and later, trucking, as his occupations of choice, baseball remained a hobby.

Now, I tend to be an upbeat, positive person just by nature. Someone that tends to try to find the positive in any given situation. So it makes sense that I’m a Cubs fan, to a point. Every time they lose a game, as the old saying goes, “There’s always next time!”

As I’ve grown up, my relationship with Cubs baseball has gone from just casual liking to all out obsession. Seriously. Now I am in NO WAY a superstitious person, except when discussing the Chicago Cubs–and fortune cookie etiquette….FYI, it is considered bad luck to pass someone a fortune cookie.

Anyone familiar with Cubs history can understand what I am getting at. They are said to be cursed. In an effort to keep this blog from being 10,000 words, here is a brief background of the controversy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_Billy_Goat. Another layer of superstition was added in 2003 when an errant fan infamously thwarted the Cubs effort. With four outs to go in what would have been the last game of the series, a game to decide who’d go to the World Series, this happened. Yep. That one took more than a day or so to recover from as a fan. I do feel sorry for the guy though, as he received death threats and has to live the rest of his life knowing what he did.

Which leads me to my superstitions. To this day, especially during baseball season, I can’t utter this man’s name. I don’t even want to hear it. Now looking at what I just wrote, I realize I sound pretty crazy. The thing is, it gets worse. As a Cubs fan, it’s widely known that during baseball season, some words and phrases are bad luck/off-limits. There is one phrase that should never be uttered, no matter what season. One should never say, “When the **baseball team I’m writing about but can’t name in this sentence due to the above mentioned superstition** win the world series, won’t that be great??” Yeah, you can’t say that and expect life to go on as normal. One also can’t mention the name Steve Bartman, or reference billy goats. That’s just all kinds of bad ju-ju. (Apparently you can write that name though. Viva la loopholes 😉 )

Except maybe it’s not. What if all of these elements have absolutely nothing to do with a team’s ability to play? So why do some teams in the league do better than others? No, I am not going to suggest the pithy explanation that they suck. I’ve thought about this over the last week and have come up with a few different explanations.

1. Stadium Lighting Changes: So, it’s been over 100 years since the Cubs have won a World Series. In 1908, lighting was probably dim at best, considering the evolution of the light bulb was in its infancy. With this to consider, it makes sense that the Cubs may be spooked by the bright lights of a stadium. Especially the brightness of the lights post-season.

2. Attack of Reverse Psychology: In this last series, the Mets beat the Cubs in 4 games straight. Despite the fact that in the regular season, the Mets fell to the Cubs each of the 7 times they played. It’s almost as if the Mets got together in the pre-season and had the following conversation: “Hey guys! Let’s really fake the Cubs out. We are scheduled to play them 7 times this season. Let’s throw each game, lulling them into a false sense of security. If we happen to play them in the post, we’ll really cream ’em” (I’m pretty sure that’s how it all went down.)

3. The Standardized Test Theory: We all know that kid in school. We may have even been him. You know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about that kid that was bright and knew all the answers during the school day. But when it came time to take the test over the material, he choked. That kid is the Chicago Cubs.

Especially taking the last explanation into consideration, I am changing my strategy for rooting for the Cubs. I will stop avoiding certain words and phrases. I will stop knocking on wood when certain words and phrases are uttered (I may have started to get pretty serious splinters this season). I will also remain positive, because I am a Cubs fan. The most loyal and supportive fans in the League. No matter what next season brings.

Go Cubs!

 

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