When Torture Turns to Apathy…
I have heard many times that it is torture being a Cubs fan. Everyone knows the Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 and during that 103 year span there have been countless agonizing moments, but there have been wonderful ones as well. We know about the goats, the curses, and the infamous foul ball. We know about the ’69 collapse, the black cat, and Brant Brown dropping the ball in the Milwaukee County Stadium sun. But then there was Ernie Banks hitting #500, Rick Monday saving the flag, and Ryne Sandberg hitting #2 off Bruce Sutter on that wonderful Saturday afternoon as Bob Costas screamed in disbelief. But then there was that same Bruce Sutter, pitching for the Cubs, giving up run #23 to Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in the famous 23-22 game. There was one of the greatest years ever in 1984, until the torture of 3 straight losses against the putrid brown and yellow jerseys of San Diego (I still to this day can’t stomach the sight of Steve Garvey). There were 5 outs to go in 2003 before someone called Bartman (but that someone should really be called Alex Gonzalez) ended that dream, and then of course, the first round playoff exits (both by way of sweep) of 2007 and 2008. It seems that for Cub fans every great moment is offset with towel drills or cant-miss prospects who miss, inevitably leading to the uttering of those fateful words, “wait ’til next year”.
But what Cubs fans have always had is a true love for their team and the dream that this misery would one day finally end. So every year fans have returned to the park for that love, that torture, that agony, and all the other emotions that tug at the heart of all Cub fans. Well….until now. Futility is officially upon us at Clark and Addison and the Cubs may have finally stripped their great fans of their most important quality – hope. Part of having hope is using it to get you through the torture of the tough times. Therein lies the problem. If you do not have hope, then you do not care, and if you do not care, you can no longer be tortured.
And when that sad day arrives you come to the realization that your team has sailed away into a Sea of Apathy. Drifting away while people who were once your most ardent fans simply shrug their shoulders and move on to something else. And it’s not just the product on the field that is pushing people away these days. The most famous Cubs’ fans of all time were the “Bleacher Bums” of the 60’s and 70’s. They were the REAL fans who spent 4 bucks and sat in the sunny bleachers drinking beer and cheering on their beloved Cubs. Well, I hope the 2011 ‘Bleacher Bums’ are able to afford a $81 bleacher ticket for next weekend’s tilt against the Yankees. Yep, no misprint there, $81 to sit in the famous bleachers at Wrigley Field. This would be the very same area where back in the day maybe you would find a young college kid named Tom Ricketts sitting with his shirt off, drinking beer in his then affordable seat. But it’s different times now at Wrigley Field and different attitudes from the long time ‘loveable loser’ Cub fans, who as many Sox fans would tell you “just get off the buses from Iowa and come to Wrigley Field no matter what”, or that they are “just all the young yuppies in Wrigleyville that go to the park and don’t even watch the game”. Sure there was probably a little of that in years past, but present day fans are fed up and are not just going to the park anymore to watch futility at the not-so-friendly confines.
That is the sad day we are faced with in Cub nation. People have gotten so fed up they have stopped caring and for that matter stopped going to Wrigley Field like they once did. The torture is gone and that is a sad thing if you are a Cub fan like me. Even if I live my life as my father did without ever having seen the Cubs win the World Series, I hope that one day soon I will be tortured again by the north side baseball team because it will mean I care again. That again I will have what unites all Cub fans everywhere. That I will have hope.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel [Getty Images]