The Chicago Cubs baseball club is without a doubt the most futile professional sports team in America.
The count of non-championship seasons has reached an unbearable 103 years, when the Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers in the 1908 World Series.
For historical prospective, Teddy Roosevelt was president. The Panama Canal was being constructed. Women could not vote. Telephones were new. Black and Latin players could not play with white players.
Other teams had long championship droughts like the Chicago White Sox, the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies and have overcome them.
Ball clubs have come and gone. New teams like the Florida Marlines and Arizona Diamondbacks won championships within five years of existence.
The Cubs also have played consistently with their fans hearts and could be arguably cursed.
There were eight straight World Series defeats with the last having Billy Sianis supposedly cursing the team to never return to the championship round because his pet goat was not allowed in Wrigley.
The Miracle Mets in 1969 overtake a Cubs team with three Hall of Famers for the East Division title with the team’s downfall commencing after a black cat crossed Santo’s path in the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium.
The 1984 Cubs were up 2-0 in their first playoff series in 39 years and dropped three straight, including Leon Durham’s infamous error in Game 5.
The 1989, 1998, 2007 and 2008 teams were simply outmatched with the 2003 team running into a little Steve Bartman/Alex Gonzalez silliness to derail a sure World Series bid.
Players get chewed up in negative Cubs’ karma. Mark Prior— who never was injured in high school, college and minor league ball—became more brittle than glass. Kerry Wood had a potential Hall of Fame career halted by injuries, leaving him as an average pitcher. Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Angel Guzman and countless other promising prospects never panned out.
The Cubs also seem to get rid of my favorite players to my greatest ire. Mark Grace was unceremoniously let go. Mark DeRosa was my boy. Ryan Theriot and Ted Lilly traded for Blake DeWitt?
So, with these negatives, why would I or any other person be a Cubs fan?
Well, here are some reasons.
Iconic Hall of Fame players like Three Finger Brown, Fergie Jenkins, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ryan Sandberg spur legendary stories with their almost superhuman athletic abilities.
Broadcasters like Harry Carry, Jack Brickhouse, Ron Santo and Pat Hughes were like friends who made horrible losing seasons bearable and even fun.
The team has a cathedral (in Cubs fans opinions) in Wrigley Field which is one of two baseball stadiums made in the classic mode and has slowly become the eternal frat party place.
I grew up with them, watching or listening to the Cubs on WGN with my brothers and my dad.
Baseball was my first sport I immersed myself with when I was 8 and players like Shawon Dunston and Slammin’ Sammy Sosa were my heroes.
Plus, hope eternal rains year after countless year of championship futility. Imagine the romanticism of sticking with the underdog and celebrating with them along the way to a World Series title.
This season’s team is probably going nowhere because bums like Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano and Kosuke Fukudome are on the books and preventing a real rebuilding movement that Chicago desperately needed.
However, I will overlook these deficiencies and my nagging doubt and continue to cheer and hope for my team’s success.
My friend and former journalist Patrick Salem, who used to cover the Cleveland Indians years back and is a White Sox fan, perhaps put it best as to why the Chicago Cubs were destined to perpetual futility.
“God put the Chicago Cubs on Earth to humble Midwesterners.”