Have you heard a cheer coming from one of your neighbors’ homes during the past couple of weeks? Have you seen a co-worker with a sly smile when water cooler chatter turns to baseball? Or noticed an obscure blue cap with a red “C” that you don’t recognize?
Chances are good you were in the presence of a Chicago Cubs fan. We do exist in this area. We have learned to keep it to ourselves. No, it is not shame. We understand we should never be ashamed of an allegiance to a team. We also understand the heartbreak of disappointment. We’ve felt it for years. And maybe we’ll feel it again. But for right now, we’ve earned our right to cheer! And we’ve learned to accept the wrath of others when expressing the jubilation.
Being a Cubs fan is a tough job, especially in this area. I, like many others, inherited the status. My father was a Cubs fan. And, as his oldest child, it was only natural that I supported the team he called his favorite. I can remember watching the Cubs game on the final night I spent with him prior to his death in 2002. They weren’t very successful that year (I know, shocker), but it didn’t rattle his loyalty. And together, we shared those famous words that we’ve learned so well — maybe next year!
Well, that year has come. We have something to be proud of and a group of young men that deserve our support. They have devoted their entire summer to get to this place — a place unfamiliar to their predecessors, we know.
So I thought it was time to point out to everyone the extent of our pain in hopes of maybe garnering a little understanding and, if you are feeling generous, at least a little support for this deserving team as the postseason begins. After all, don’t you think they’ve earned it? Hasn’t the last 100-plus years proven that patience deserves reward?
When the Cubs came to St. Louis this month, I decided it was time to come out of hiding and show my support. I wanted to let everyone know “this is my team.” First stop was trying to replace my worn Cubs shirt with a fresher look. After all, shirts can start to look a little tattered when worn daily in the confines of your own home. This was not an easy task, but I was successful in the hunt. (Thank you, Hibbett Sports, for recognizing there are Cubs fans that exist in this region.)
Ironically enough, I didn’t feel so alone at the game. The crowd was pretty evenly split. Cubs fans not only exist, they apparently travel with their team. I wasn’t afraid to sport that new Cubs shirt. After all, I’ve worn a Yankees jersey at Fenway Park — I’ve proven my bravery! But few seemed to notice. In fact, there was an air of “maybe next year” as the Cubs played to a 7-0 victory. A ray of hope — maybe Cardinals fans understand the pain of disappointment!
So, a final plea of compassion. Wouldn’t it be great if Cardinals fans everywhere stepped up and tempered the animosity for the postseason? Hug your Cubs fan neighbor. Wish their supporters good luck. Cheer them toward a World Series victory behind the closed doors of your home — they’re used to that. Recognize that a team of core players who average 25 years of age deserve your respect for what they’ve accomplished. It won’t hurt, I promise. And, if history repeats, you may not have to do it again for 100 years or so!
Kathy Turner is a freelance writer for AdVantage News.