For decades, the Chicago Cubs have been known as the ‘Lovable Losers’. Now that they’ve won a championship, what is their identity moving forward?
Since I was a child, family members harassed me about being so loyal to the Chicago Cubs.
“They’ll never win,” they told me.
“Do you know how old your great-grandfather was when he died? And he never saw a World Series.”
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“You’re just a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?”
To that I say: Ha, they’ve done it. He was 86 – and that’s all fine and dandy but it’s in the past now. Glutton for punishment, maybe. But it was well worth it after the last two years.
For me, the 2015 postseason run was a wake-up call. The rebuild was over. This team is ready to contend and they’re going to be exciting to watch from April to October for years to come. Jake Arrieta’s complete game in the Wild Card Game at PNC Park was one of my best memories as a Cubs fan.
Then, they moved on and took care of the hated St. Louis Cardinals. Now, I say hated because after decades of being St. Louis’ personal punching bag, there’s a certain level of ill will you feel as a Cubs fan.
Lovable even after last year?
One year and a World Series ring later, life is particularly good on the North Side of Chicago. Support of and love for the Chicago Cubs hasn’t been this high in years – maybe ever. But if this is the start of a championship run, just how long will the team remain ‘lovable’?
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo received this question in Arizona this week.
“We’re a team that is likeable. Joe says ‘authenticity,’ and you see it, he said. “I think this team has a lot of good personalities, where it’s going to be tough. If we just respect the game, it’ll make it hard for people not to like us.”
Since Maddon came to Chicago, one of his key phrases has been ‘Respect 90’. The belief centers on doing things the right way, respecting one another and the game at all times. Failing to do so hasn’t been an option in years – even in the minors.
Stay true and have respect
Teams that inspire a deep hatred, let’s see. The two that come to mind right away are the New York Yankees and the New England Patriots, to be honest.
It’s hard to justify my hatred of the Yankees. I suppose I always had a problem with buying your way to the top. I prefer to develop young talent and see it pay off. But, hell, you can’t argue with the results.
New York has 27 World Series titles and 40 AL pennants over the years. Regardless of how it was accomplished, that’s unparalleled success.
As for the Patriots, I have a different beef – the respect of the game. Over the last two years with the Chicago Cubs, we saw a humble excitement up and down the roster on a daily basis. From guys like David Ross all the way down to journeyman relievers like Trevor Cahill, there was a willingness to put the team first and ego aside.
Meanwhile, in New England, they know they’re the best. The run Bill Belichick and Tom Brady put together is historic – capped by this year’s come-from-behind Super Bowl win. They walk into a room and they make sure you know it.
You have showboaters like Gronkowski trotting around; making sure everyone remembers him and his role. None of this sideshow drama exists in Joe Maddon’s clubhouse.
Players are encouraged to be themselves and have fun, but it’s about the team first and staying humble and hungry.
Sure, fans in St. Louis will hate the Chicago Cubs. That’s a given. But as long as Joe Maddon is at the helm, this team will never be the target of American sports’ hatred.