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My beloved Cubbies have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
This time they went out with a whimper, their heads handed to them by the St.. Louis Cards over the course of the season.
In each of my 40-plus years of pulling for the Cubs, they have been eliminated at some point well short of a World Series championship.
Of course, I’m but a babe in the woods when it comes to Cub-induced suffering.
Since the last time the Northsiders won it all, 101 years have passed.
That means that there is probably not one person left on this earth who remembers the last time the Cubbies won the World Series.
Why wouldn’t a fan drop the Cubs in favor of a team that seems to have a better shot at a title?
Why don’t I?
There are a number of reasons that we don’t. I suppose, taken in aggregate, they define the term “loyalty.”
First, there is the paranoia that, having dumped them for another team, the Cubbies would finally come through. Then where would you be?
Can you imagine watching the city of Chicago erupt in joy as you’re sitting there stewing, a Detroit Tigers cap perched ridiculously on your noggin?
Second, there is the concern that, having adopted another team, it takes on the characteristics of the Cubs.
It’s the same thinking that led some of us to hold onto that General Motors stock we’d bought at 50 bucks, even though it is now at 75 cents. You were afraid to sell, thinking that whatever you bought might do even worse. By the way, at the stock exchange, GM now carries the official name of “Motors Liquidation Company.” Really. You can look it up.
Third, to which team would you turn? It can’t be another National League team. You can’t adopt a team that plays the Cubs several times each season.
In the American League, there are only three teams that are on TV as much as the Cubbies. They are the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox.
The Yankees? That’d be too easy. But, it’d be like a guy marrying Paris Hilton. Lots of money; but the drama? Oy!
The Red Sox? That’d be like a guy marrying a gal with a fat momma. She might look good now, but there is sure to be disappointment ahead.
The White Sox? Perish the thought. That’s dysfunction at its most extreme. For a Cubs fan to switch to the White Sox is akin to a guy marrying Rosie O’Donnell. Nature’s laws dictate it just isn’t meant to be.
All of this marriage talk brings me to point number four. Now that I’ve dragged the wife into my personal Wrigleyville, wouldn’t it be wrong of me to jump ship on her?
The movie The Days of Wine and Roses features a pair of young newlyweds. Jack Lemmon sweeps Lee Remick off her feet. Along the way, he pulls her into his alcoholic lifestyle.
Later, he cleans up. Remick, helpless against the lure of the bottle, remains a drunk and Lemmon leaves her.
I’m no Jack Lemmon: I don’t want my marriage jeopardized because the wife can’t shake that Cub monkey from her back. Especially since it was me that put it there in the first place.
Fifth, you can’t turn your back on a lifetime of memories:
-The Cubs’ trade of Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz.
-The collapse in 1969, when the Miracle Mets won it all.
The 47-22 start to the 1977 season, in which the team finished at .500, in fourth place.
-The 1984 National League championship series, when the Cubs squandered a two-game lead over San Diego.
But even those bad memories can’t wipe out a lifetime of good ones.
The trips to Wrigley have all been wonderful.
As a kid, I cheered for Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.
As a young man, I rooted for Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson.
Now, I’m for Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Dempster (but NOT for Milton Bradley, the troublemaker).
Later on in life (God willing), I’ll have other Cubs for which to cheer.
And someday, I know my dedication and that of millions of Cubbie fans around the world will pay off.
And everyone’s invited to jump on the bandwagon.