Though the Chicago Cubs boast the fewest losses in the National League, a large chunk of their fan base continues to favor perception over reality in lamenting their 2018 season.
In 1710, philosopher George Berkeley posited on whether or not a sound was produced by a falling tree if nobody was around to hear it. This paradoxical question shone a light on the role perception plays in shaping one’s reality. It is an argument that permeates all walks of life, so why then should Cub fandom be any different? How does perception play into a Chicago Cubs fan’s psyche?
It should come as no surprise to anyone to hear someone claim that a large portion of the Cubs fan base is deeply affected by “suggestion”. Billy goats, Bartman, Brant Brown, Leon Durham…ours is a fan base that has had good reason to believe in the boogie man over the years. But beyond these curses and misfortunes, even the cathartic memories are rife with flawed perception.
Ben Zobrist or Miguel Montero?
Take as one example the fairytale story of Ben Zobrist and how he endeared himself forever to Cubs fans. His game-winning, tenth inning double handed the Cubs their first title in over a century, exorcising those aforementioned curses with the clutch-est of hits imaginable. Only it didn’t.
While it is true that Zobrist’s double is worthy of legend, it was Miguel Montero’s pinch-hit RBI single that provided the game-winning second run of that inning. That poor guy couldn’t be run out of town fast enough. The difference? We perceive Zobrist as an “aw shucks” everyman and feel like his grinding nature epitomizes what “Being Cub” is all about.
Meanwhile, Montero carried on his shoulder a chip that exposed an offputting competitive arrogance that few appreciated. Reality would have made him a hero, but perception made him a villain.