Chicago Sun-Times
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Hey Chicago, whaddaya say ... let's root for the Cubs anyway?

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Mets Cubs Baseball_Mill.jpgWith the Cubs' lackluster 2009 campaign spiraling into absurdity, it's fair to wonder why 39,907 people still showed up to watch the coldest August Cubs game in team history. I wondered it myself as I sat shivering in the press box.

There was nothing to celebrate on the field. No one got to sing "Go Cubs Go" at the end of the game. The team's only run came in the first inning and they lost, pathetically, to one of the most miserable teams in professional sports, the Mets.

But in the moments after the fans had cleared the stadium, I was reminded exactly why the fans still insist upon showing up in droves. 

As a family was getting a tour of the press box, a little girl -- couldn't have been older than six -- found herself in Bob Brenly and Len Kasper's broadcast booth. She did what came naturally: She belted "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with all her might. It was delightfully off-key and more yelled than sung, like kids are wont to do in those situations. Few, if any, heard her; but she didn't care. She knew -- probably from watching the broadcasts -- that when you're in the booth, you sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

It's what any logical Cubs fan would do, and arguably the best thing that happened on this day at the corner of Clark and Addison.

The first time my father brought me to Wrigley Field I was four years old. We sat in the left field bleachers. Gary Matthews was mere feet from me and he was huge. Coincidentally, the Mets beat the Cubs that day 4-1. Dwight Gooden pitched. Jim Frey was ejected. Jody Davis, my favorite player at the time, hit a homer for the Cubs' only run. I was hooked.

Since 2003, the mentality of Cub fandom has shifted somehow. Having come so close to the World Series that year, fans now expect a winner, and management has shelled out the money to make it happen. For the last two years, the regular season has ended with the streets blocked off and hordes of people wandering Wrigleyville drunk on a mixture of beer, and hope. But mostly beer.

Barring a minor miracle, it's not gonna happen this year.

In the subsequent seasons after my first game at Wrigley, the Cubs weren't exactly putting together winning teams. With the exception of 1989 and 1998, my childhood and adolescence was spent cheering for a group of lovable losers. I didn't mind. I was always amazed and proud of the fact that even though the team's bats were empty, the seats were full.

Despite a few chunks of empty seats that played like pock marks on the Friendly Confines Sunday, the stadium was still more than 95 percent full. Fans were still into it. After Saturday's 11-run outburst, there was a sense that maybe if the team could get hot the wild card wasn't too far out of reach. Those hopes were dashed with each of the 11 hits Carlos Zambrano gave  up in his 3 1/3 innings of work. 

It's time for Cub fans to return to their roots. It's time for them to embrace the losing and do what we do best: have a damn good time doing it.
 
It's time to stop bemoaning the fact that the team failed to live up to some lofty expectations. It's time to forget the fact that as a group they haven't earned their payroll -- the third highest in the league.

It's time to appreciate baseball for what it is on the North Side. Soon, it'll be gone and the old mantra, "Wait 'til next year," will creep into our collective consciousness.

If you live in Chicago, there will be a day in January or February -- as freezing rain becomes an icy sidewalk and we haven't seen the sun in weeks -- that a Cubs loss on an unseasonably cool day in August doesn't seem all that bad. In fact, it'll seem like paradise.

Something, perhaps, that only a six-year-old songstress could truly appreciate in the moment.

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8 Comments

Another good reason to attend- it is my team , since 1957 it is my team.
I buy tickets for the 2-3 games we can get to(no longer live in the metro area) and they are purchaseed prior to the opening of the season. I cannot decide at the last minute whether or not the team is "worthy" of my money.
Geez, are fans tnhat fickle now that we have to know IN ADVANCE whether or not the team will that day in order to decide on attending?

It's this type of attitude that will continue to produce non-winners for years to come. Cubs fans should take a page from White Sox fans (or any other fans out there, for that matter)---if your team sucks, don't go to the game. Don't boo, don't heckle, don't go. After 101 years, there's nothing lovable about being losers anymore.

Dale you and folks like you are typical of what is WRONG with the Cubs! They're losers and sheeple like you who support these overpaid underachievers contibute to the cycle of losing! Send a message NOW by boycotting these bums! No more Soriano, Zambrano, Gregg, Bradley, Dumpster or that bum of a manager Piniella or that bum of a GM Hendry--Dont you understand? We have to hit them in their wallets in order for them to sit up, take note, and make some intelligent player moves! We missed out on players like Cliff Lee, Mark DeRosa, even John Smoltz! All the while people like you and thousands of yuppies drinking massive amounts of alcohol and wandering Wrigleyville like drunken zombies..Bring back the Cubs before I die! 50 years and I have yet to see them seriously challenge for the World Series, and that, my neighbors, s u c k s! Thank you!

My son and I attended a couple weeks ago, and yes, the Cubs lost. But my son was sitting in the same ball park my great-grandfather sat in, my grandfather sat in, and my father sat in, and someday my son's son will sit there and his grandson will sit there too.

All this talk of possibly dumping the next best pitcher the Cubs have in Harden. When we've got the Big Z making 18-20 M per year and he isn't near the pitcher recently, of either Lilly or Harden. It's high time to dump Big Z and keep Lilly and Harden. If Wells continues to impress next year as he has this year, and along with Dempster, it's past time to replace Zambrano. We haven't heard much from the new owner yet, and that's understandable I suppose, until it's official. But, it's a bit concerning to me that we haven't at least heard a hint about him, which makes me concerned that he may be a mizer, too?

x, I get what you're trying to say, but I don't think cutting the team's revenue down to Pittsburgh-type levels through some kind of mass boycott is going to suddenly make the Cubs a better baseball organization. I see a lot of people who seem to believe that Hendry or the Tribune Co. or whoever is running some kind of hustle on Cubs fans and we're all too stupid to understand it. Following that logic, only the World Series champions should have any fans in the stands, and the other 29 teams should play to empty houses because fans shouldn't support anything less than a World Series champ.

Whether or not you think it makes me an idiot, the Cubs are the team I started following when I was a little kid, and they're going to be my team when I'm an old man. They might win 20 World Series by then, and they might never win it again. Either way, it won't make me love baseball any more or less, it won't make me a better or worse person, and at best it'll make me really happy for a few months and give me a few good memories. I'd love to see it happen, but if it doesn't I won't consider the good times I've had with baseball to be a waste of time.

Both chicago baseball teams are an embarrassment - and they dish the game with their horrendously stupid base running, failure to throw to the right base, poor bunting techniques, the Sox lead the league in errors and unearned runs, worst fielding pct., and the miserable Cubs are frightening bad given their payroll. Zambrano and Soriano have to be the two highest paid losers in MLB history.

Piniella looks like he's going to have a heart attack during the game, Rothcshild looks absolutely clueless, and many of the players appear less interested in the game than do some of the fans.

Good luck to the Ricketts. When you're team has been the rat's nest of MLB for 100 years - it will take a miracle to change the tradition.

The Cubs were toast when St. Louis got Matt Holiday. The Cubbies are just not as exciting to watch this year. I won't attend anymore meaningless games which cost way too much for an antiquated ballpark, even if it is the lovely Wrigley Field. I will sell my tickets to tourists and visitors.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on August 31, 2009 2:00 AM.

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