EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – APRIL 23, 2008
By Rich Trzupek
It’s that time of year friends: time for the annual Cheap Seats Cub-bash. As always, you Cubs fans are invited to reply in kind. Keep your submissions to no more than 800 words and e-mail them to your humble correspondent at firstname.lastname@example.org. The best of the bunch will be published in the Cheap Seats (yes, this is a scam to get out of having to write a column for a week) and other worthy candidates may be posted on the Cheap Seats official blog.
And, for those of you South Side faithful who enjoy a good Cubs/Tribune bashing on a season-long basis, allow me to suggest Cubune.com. Very entertaining, and insightful, stuff.
Enjoy – and: Go You White Sox!
We all know one. We can’t help but know one; they’re everywhere. We may even call some of them friends, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, for it’s not their fault. We should always be sympathetic because, much like alcoholism, Cub fandom is simply a disease. Come to think of it, being a Cub fan is probably a stage of alcoholism, if the crowd at Wrigley Field is any evidence.
The Cub fan is a strange, yet strangely lovable, creature. Their childlike belief that this will be the year, every year, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, every year, is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. When Barack Obama talks about “the audacity of hope” is there any doubt that he is courting the votes of the Cub faithful?
We Sox fans, rooting for a team that has won not one, but two, World Series in the last century, must be tolerant of our disadvantaged Cub fan brothers and sisters. They are special, as in the Special Olympics kind of special. The debate whether Cubfanitis is the product of flawed genetics or a troubled upbringing will rage, as medical science continues to search for a cure. Until one is found, let us reflect on some simple rules for dealing with the Cub fan in our life.
• Do not point out the deficiencies of their team in direct terms. Instead, we should nurture their freakish optimism.
For example, it would be unseemly to point out that it’s pretty darn stupid to count on Ted Lily to pitch over his head for two years in a row, or to expect Jason Marquis not to fall apart come August, or to plan on Rich Hill to suddenly stop being a head case, or to hope that some quirk in the schedule allows them to only play the Pirates for the rest of the season. Instead, say things like “the staff seems to be coming around”, and “once Lily gets untracked, you guys will be solid”. Cub fans eat that stuff up.
• Never, ever insult their venerated shrine of a ballpark. This is the equivalent of criticizing someone’s religion. Check that. It’s not the “equivalent of”, it IS insulting their religion. Just as you wouldn’t have a private audience with the Pope and say “hey Benedict, when you gonna level this crappy old basilica and put up something new?” you must be extra careful about what you say about the friendly confines.
Even a seemingly mild, throwaway remark can send the Cub fan into a rage. Should you go to a game with your Cub fan friend and miss three and a half innings waiting in line to use the world’s crappiest, oldest and smelliest bathrooms, do not respond to the question “where have you been?” with an answer like “hoping that my bladder didn’t explode – Good Lord, I’ve seen shorter lines at the DMV!” They just don’t like that.
Watching out for chunks of concrete ready to fall on you is similarly discouraged. The Cub fan isn’t worried about hunks of rock falling on his head, since a thick skull is standard equipment for all who join Cubbie nation. Just wear a batting helmet if you have to go to the park. You’ll be all right.
• If you go to a game at Wrigley, try not to get annoyed when the crowd roars and jumps to its feet whenever one of their heroes hits the ball anywhere in the air. They really can’t tell the difference between a lazy pop-up and a ball headed for Waveland. It’s a lack of depth perception thing, which also explains why female Cub fans almost inevitably choose male Cub fans as partners. Without depth perception, they really can’t appreciate the natural “shortcomings” of the male Cub fan, if you know what I mean. (wink, wink – nudge, nudge…)
• Do not, as my buddy Dan has suggested, point out that even if the impossible should happen this year and the lil’ bears were to win the World Series in October, it will still have been a gap of over 100 years since the last time the Cubbies won it all. This will make the average Cub fan suicidal, and we’ve got enough traffic problems with out Cub fans plummeting into the streets from the roofs of buildings.
• Avoid any mention of the recent world championship won by the mighty South Siders, or, indeed, any mention of the year 2005, or of anything that occurred in this year. The year of 2005 has become a repressed memory for Cub fans. No one but a trained psychiatric professional should attempt to make them relive the horror.
It’s tempting. We all understand that. When your average Cub fan gets especially obnoxious (and they do, they do), the temptation to pull out your 2005 World Series t-shirt, wave it in front of his face and yell “eleven and one in October baby! How’d you guys do last October? Oh, yeah. Sooooooo sorry”, is almost overwhelming.
But if you say something like that, the Cub fan’s eyes will roll into the back of his head and his skull will begin to spin about on his shoulders, a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist. It’s not pretty, and cleaning up the pea soup vomit is fairly disgusting as well. Best to just leave it alone.
It’s a long season and the insufferable Cub fan will undoubtedly make it longer. Yet we must endure Sox fans, in the quiet dignity and serenity that only comes with winning an actual championship once or twice every century.