Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: The anatomy of a drought

Oct 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs fans wave rally towels in the sixth inning in game four of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs fans wave rally towels in the sixth inning in game four of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

With every passing year, the Chicago Cubs continue to make history. Dreams of a dynasty, or at the very least a contending team have come and faded away like so many October’s. In the 107 years since the last World Series on the North Side, the structure of our world and society have shifted greatly. The one thing shared by every living person on this planet has been the drought.

Any Cubs fan will tell you that not winning a World Series has been the most painful component of their lives. Of course, sports don’t rank very high in the grand scheme of things that are in our lives, but cheering for the Cubs has defined how we view the world.

I’ve often joked with friends that I view my luck and circumstances much like I view my Cubs; hope for the best, but expect the worse. 

Sure, this seems like an over-reactive, pessimistic mindset, but it hasn’t let me down yet. Since 2003, we have witnessed the epic collapse against the Marlins and celebrated back-to-back playoff trips only to see the floor fall beneath our feet. All this while being a spectator in October while the Red Sox and White Sox slain their dragons and the Cardinals continue to dig the knife a bit deeper.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and haven’t appeared in one since the ending of World War II. To really put that in perspective, the other three major sports leagues were created after the drought began (NHL 1917, NFL 1920, and the NBA 1946). More notably, Chicago teams in each of those leagues were born and have since brought home, at least, one championship to Chicago.

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Since expansion began in the sixties, eight franchises have been added to the league. Of those eight, only two have yet to make it to the World Series. The Cubs drought pre-dates all of these teams. When the Texas Rangers began play in 1961, the Cubs were already without a championship for 53 years. A full list of Major League droughts can be seen here.

Before we move on, let’s enjoy some more worldly events that have occurred since 1908. The Titanic was built, sailed, sunk and was found almost 80 years later. Wrigley Field was built and has become the oldest ballpark in the National League while never having hosted a World Series. The United States put a man on the moon….on several occasions. We have fought through seven major wars or conflicts including World War I, World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War. The icing on the cake is the almost 15,000 games played since 1908, and I’m pretty sure they have lost a majority of them.

That is the real essence of this drought, really. While the Red Sox cornered the market in heartbreaking pain each year, those teams were often competitive. The Cubs has been defined by their losing because they have done it so spectacularly for a century. There is only a handful of winning teams in that long time frame so our heartbreak has been tamed.

The “lovable losers” moniker was fine for a while, but to quote The Shawshank Redemption, like I have before, “every man has his breaking point”.

My pessimism has given way to hope once more because the air surrounding this franchise seems different. No one enjoys watching their team be stripped down to be rebuilt, but we understood it. Optimism is a new term that Cubs fans are trying to adjust to. A front office not always looking for the flashy move, but the right move.

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If the years leading up to 2015 were the foundation, then we should take solace within its walls. 2016 will be the first of many years to come where we should expect to win. That doesn’t mean each year will end with a parade and a pennant, but that we know our team will be in the hunt. We were sold on the notion of “sustained success”, and that goal starts next week.