You'll Find No Sympathy for the Northsiders Here

Categories: Sports

You know, I consider myself a pretty decent human being, at least most of the time. Don't get me wrong; I've done some truly lousy things in my life, and there are still days I say, or so, something that I end up regretting. But overall, I really don't think I'm all that bad.

So why am I so absolutely gleeful over the downfall of the Cubs?

I'm a St. Louis Cardinals fan, damnit! We're supposed to be classy, for god's sake! Hell, we Cards fans place a lot of stock in our own classiness. We rarely boo anyone or anything, we cheer opposing players when they make an outstanding play or turn in a great performance, and ain't nobody can give a curtain call like a Busch Stadium crowd.

Stay classy, Chicago.
And yet, I just can't muster up any sort of classy behavior toward the Cubs, especially not now. And I'll just about bet that you can't either.

Admit it, you're all in the same boat as me. Oh, come on. It's okay. You're among friends here.

I love it when the Cubs lose. Even down the stretch, when we needed the Cubs to beat the Brewers in order to try and keep the Cards' post-season hopes alive, I just couldn't bring myself to root for them. I would check the day's box scores, see that the Cubs had lost, and immediately get this surge of joy, before I realized that it was actually a bad thing they lost. At that point, I would attempt a half hearted "darn," but no one, not even my cats, believed me. It's amazing how quickly a tabby can see through false disappointment.

A typical specimen, likely bussed in from the 'burbs.

The thing about all of this is, I should be rooting for the Cubs. It's such an amazing story. A hundred years. You know what? That doesn't do it justice.

A hundred years!

There, that's more like it. I know, so many Cub fans are those schlubs you see out in the bleachers, drunk as lords at one in the afternoon, throwing balls back on to the field. (By the way, I don't care who hits the damn thing; I've never caught a ball in my life. I get one, it's going home with me, regardless of the circumstances.)

And besides them, you've got the other kind of Cubs fans, the ones in the good seats, that have turned Wrigley Field into nothing more than another social happening. The guys who talk about Wrigley, calling it a cathedral, and then can't tell you the score in the fourth inning because they were busy talking on their Black Berries to their friends about the sweet seats they scored and groping their utterly vacuous girlfriends before heading out to some North Side hangout for yuppie-types, where they can talk to their friends in person about the atmosphere of a true piece of history and how great it was even though the Cubs lost 14-2 and...

Whoa. Sorry there, I think I blacked out for a second. Wait a second, I own a Black Berry. Scratch that last comment.

But there are great Cub fans out there. Men and women who have followed the team, year in and year out, rain and shine (well, let's face it, rain), and who can tell you every one of Ron Santo's career statistics. Great baseball fans who don't use the term "lovable losers." Fans who love their team in spite of the losing, not because of it, and actually understand the game. Those people are out there.

My editor, not too long ago, sent me a link to a nice little piece on a Cubs' fan. It was about a 104-year-old man, a lifelong fan of the Northsiders, whose greatest wish in life was to throw out the first pitch at a game at Wrigley Field. Award winning journalism? Well, no, to be honest. But it was still just a tiny little bit touching, to think of this man, who was four years old when his beloved Cubbies last won it all, hoping to throw out that first pitch while he still had a chance. That is love. That is devotion. That is something truly special; the sort of thing that sport, at its very best, can sometimes bring us. Unfortunately, the story didn't end quite the way Hollywood would like to see it. The Cubs invited the man, a Mr. Hildebrand, to come to a game and meet the players. They even gave him four free tickets. But, no pitch.

Well, the story made its way around the office, as things like this are wont to do, and a couple of days later, I received a forwarded e-mail, again from my editor. Apparently he had sent this same article to a woman in the office, a woman by the name of Aimee Levitt, and this was her response:

"Bah. It's not like it was a surprise or anything. If the poor man was going to suffer so terribly, he could have just scalped his tickets for $400. No sympathy whatsoever."

Isn't that appalling? The complete lack of compassion? The lack of empathy toward another human being? A human being with nothing more than a wish to throw a baseball? And do you know what the worst thing of all is?

I feel the exact same way. That was my first, immediate reaction to the article. I didn't feel bad for the old guy. I didn't even feel a twinge, really.

Hey, it's the Cubs. I just can't help it.

So like I said, I consider myself a pretty decent human being. I don't drown kittens in sacks, or kick puppies, or cheat on my taxes. I even recycle.

But when it comes to the Cubs? All bets are off. I can't even bring myself to feel bad for a centenarian who gets turned down for his life's dream.

It's just the kind of guy I am.

- Aaron Schafer

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