Iron Ford
  • Thanks Cubs, Thanks

    Michael Tow
    Tuesday, November 8, 2016

    A week has now passed since Kris Bryant charged, gloved, and threw out the longest championship drought of any professional sports team ever. As Bryant fielded the slow grounder, a grin crept across his face that, seconds later, erupted in a celebration that has not yet stopped, nor should it.

    During Major League Baseball’s modern era, which began in 1903, there have been 653 World Series games played, and while dozens have been deemed “the greatest ever” or “the most memorable ever,” Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will be regarded as one of the most needed, one that allowed sports to perfectly fulfill its distractive and unifying role in our society. Although World Series games have been played through world wars and in the wake of grave national tragedies, never has one been played less than a week away from an election that has been so vulgarly divisive while exploiting our fears and differences and forcing us to choose for president one of the two most unfavorable candidates in American history, and never has one been played in which the outcome brought more than five million people together to celebrate what had not happened in nearly eleven decades.
     
    Now, although I pulled for the Cubs throughout the playoffs, cursed when they gave up the lead in the eighth inning of Game 7, and threw my hands in the air when they won in the tenth, I cannot and will not pretend to be a Cubs’ fan. Rather, I have spent almost the entirety of my life as a fan of their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. My great grandparents were from St. Louis, Jack Buck’s voice drowned out my parents’ arguing many nights, my first baseball game was at old Busch Stadium on my eleventh birthday, and I worked on the Cardinals Radio Network while in college. But, I was never one of those Cardinals’ fans who sanctimoniously believed the Cardinals’ success was a result of their fans’ piety or one who never passed on an opportunity to belittle the Cubs or their fans’ suffering. In fact, I have attended more games in the Wrigley Field bleachers the past five years than at Busch Stadium, and, while there, learned new lessons regarding loyalty.

    I once heard my friend Whitney explain to her godson, “It’s easy to be a fan of a team always expected to win.” That’s a simple statement, but, to me, it’s profundity was lost in its simplicity. It is easy to align oneself with a sports team, or a person, or anything else that carries the expectation of fulfillment or satisfaction, but how quick we are to turn away at the first instance of struggle or hurt. Maybe turning away can be understood as self-preservation, but loyalty, like Whitney, Sarah, Bart, Erik, and Jon, the five biggest Cubs fans I know, never turns away.

    So, to mimic from the Cubs’ victory song, thanks Cubs, thanks. Thanks for distracting us, if only for a little while, from the undesirable choice before us, thanks for bringing millions of us together instead of furthering our divisions, thanks for letting us express joy alongside unknown strangers who may or may not share our political views, and thanks for teaching us about loyalty.

     

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