Unbalanced: Why I want to be a Cubs fan

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Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

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I lost my cell phone; the clothes I got my dad for Father’s Day didn’t fit him; and the Today show keeps running segments about not eating the foods I want to eat.

Time for some major league escapism, to take my mind off these minor and not-so-minor annoyances.

Except my team is in the dumper.

Ever since the Cleveland Indians broke my heart by trading away Victor Martinez, I’ve told my husband we need to switch team loyalty. The Indians owners sell all their best players, payroll being a bigger deal to them than pennants.

He resists; he’s been an Indians fan since his boyhood cowboys-and-Indians days. Not sure why. He’s too young to actually remember their last Series win (1948, for those of you looking for a laugh), and with the Indians proudly in the back of the pack this season, he has little to celebrate.

I, on the other hand, have decided to cheer on another team, while still maintaining a (rapidly diminishing) loyalty to the Indians. That means picking from the National League, which expects its pitchers to both sing and dance, to avoid split loyalties when the Indians play their American League opponents.

I choose the Cubs.

This makes perfect sense. Except for interleague play, the Cubs and Indians rarely meet. And what I will never see is the two teams squaring off in a World Series game. I’ll have no problem with mixed loyalties ever — because an “Indians and Cubs to meet in the World Series” announcement would only mean Armageddon has arrived.

I also want to be a Cubs fan because the team stands for something. They stand for hope. Okay, maybe it’s hope in the face of overwhelming ineptitude, hope in the face of statistical disaster, hope in a you-need-meds kind of way. But the hope the Cubs sell doesn’t have a bad end, the way hope in the presence of a cancer diagnosis can. It’s a good hope, the same as “lovable losers” is a good nickname. It doesn’t contain dread or fear or tragic sadness.

And what other team gives viewers such a rush with each victory, no matter how minor? People do cheer 0-0 or 1-1 ties in soccer, you know. The crowds get really, really excited and make lots of noise and trample other fans. So when the Cubs beat their crosstown Chicago rival White Sox 1-0 in a somewhat meaningless June game, it was reason for rejoicing. Break out the vuvuzelas.

Last, but maybe not least, Cubbie blue is a fabulous color. The team’s logo is tasteful. Their funky ballpark is called “the friendly confines.” The neighborhood is cool. And I can get their games on TV, without mortgaging my soul to cable. What’s not to like?

I hear you now: If I don’t want to support the Indians because they are losing, why would I support the Cubs? That’s the easier answer of all. The Cubs aren’t supposed to win. Like a handsome, two-timing Romeo, they are meant to break hearts. The thrill is in the chase, and with the Cubs, it’s all chase. Love ’em and lose ’em.

So from now on I will be a fan of both the Indians and the Cubs. And not stupid enough to dream the impossible dream, not stupid enough to think the two teams will ever meet when everything is on the line. Just a fan of two losing teams, one that has already broken my heart, the other that soon surely will.

As the poet Robert Browning said: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” I will not be disappointed.


Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine._


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