I’m from Green Bay, but now I’m a teacher in Chicago. Yesterday, there was a parade two blocks from my classroom, and thousands gathered for a celebration 108 years in the making. Several of my students skipped class; others were trapped in a flooded public transportation system. They have a quiz on Tuesday. I hope they’re ready. If not, I blame the Cubs.
The Cubs are World Series Champions, and now I have a truly awful, 1980’s theme song-styled jingle running through my head at all times. Hey Chicago, what do you say? Think-of-something-new-to-sing!
In spite of my slight annoyance, energy fills the streets, a sweet release of tension built up from over a century of disappointment and wishful thinking. Grown men reminiscent of those teenage girls seeing the Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan Show. Little ‘W’ flags left on the tombs of the dead who never saw the day come 1. This morning, my normally sleepy bus-ride to work was almost entirely blue and red. It seemed that all of Chicago was filing toward Michigan Avenue for a chance to glimpse the team that broke the curse.
Life is far from perfect in Chicago, and the Cubs won’t heal all the wounds of this city. But, I think there are least five reasons it’s a good thing the Cubs won:
- This Cubs team seems to be, with one glaring exception, filled with character. That exception, of course, is Aroldis Chapman,who was suspended for 30 games after a domestic violence conviction.2 On the whole, though, these guys seem to carry each other. Literally, in the case of David Ross, the 39-year-old backup catcher (and resident Yoda-figure), who was carried off the field in his final major league appearance. This kind of team-building character is a positive witness to the strength of good sportsmanship.
- After playing the favorite all year, the Cubs became underdogs in the series. They were on top for the entire season, but falling to a 3-1 deficit in any contest is a significant challenge. 4-0 sweeps are impressive, but the human spirit is more inspired by a good comeback.
- Chicago Cubs fans can no longer walk around in a self-loathing vale of tears. Most of us non-Chicagoans and others who have virtually no skin in the baseball game were tired of the complaining. Chicago sports fans gripe about ‘84 like it was yesterday. And, Steve Bartman did exactly what I would have done – he went for the ball. Get over it already.
- Fewer people will buy Chief Wahoo swag. I’m glad MLB and the Indians are now looking into the problems with the logo, but for the time being, let’s agree that the red-faced Indians brand is at best problematic and offensive, and at worst, explicitly racist and culturally oppressive.
- The overt religious symbolism. Cubs fans across the country made promises to God in the bottom on the 9th inning, and the game was played on All Soul’s Day. We remember our beloved dead on that day. Even the World Series can’t get around God.
When I walk into my house these days, I enter a house divided. Three men born and raised in Cleveland. More than half-a-dozen from Chicago. A few transplants like me, waiting for that moment when the heart decides. Fortunately, we’re still on speaking terms, and for a historic moment, the Cubs brought a city together. And for that, I’ll gladly say: go Cubs go.