Swartz on sports: Goodbye Lovable Losers

Swartz on sports , Gabe Swartz

Saturday night my beloved Chicago Cubs played Game 4 of the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field. With the Cubs trailing in the series 2-1 and the Indians pitching their ace Corey Kluber, I was legitimately worried about our chances to win the game, let alone the whole series.

After the Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Indians scored four runs up until the seventh inning. As Indians’ second baseman Jason Kipnis strolled to the plate with two runners on base, to say I wasn’t feeling great about the Cubs’ chances would’ve been an understatement. With Kipnis’ next swing, he sent the ball deep into the Chicago night for a three-run home run.

“It’s over,” I said. “We’re never going to win the World Series.”

As a Cubs fan, this feeling was all too familiar. Wait ‘til next year. I knew the lovable losers would continue their 108 year streak without a World Series title. I was so disappointed that I posted a picture on Instagram with a (not so great) pumpkin carving of the Cubs logo and the caption, “Don’t know what’s worse, the carving or the Cubs.”

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Despite less than promising chances, I still had hopes the Cubs would carve their own place in the history books with a historic comeback, while they trailed 3-1 in the series. As we all know now, the Cubs did indeed come back from the depths of elimination, simultaneously erasing 108 years of tears and the Curse of the Billy Goat.

But with the death of The Curse comes the perpetual end of the Cubs and their long-lived “lovable losers” label. The question that follows is: Where do the Cubs go from here? Gone are the days where the Cubs were pitied for their poor play.  

It’s not like we haven’t seen a streak broken before, with the Royals winning it all after a 30 year drought between championships. But with their championship, the Royals didn’t kill a century-long legacy. Don’t get me wrong, 30 years is a long time. But, the connection between two Cubs fans is so special because of the streak, not in spite of it. And with this title, the Cubs got rid of part of what made the Cubs, the Cubs.    

Within a few years we could be talking about the Cubs in the same way we talk about the Yankees or Red Sox, as another lucrative, large-market powerhouse franchise.

It makes sense that there is a small portion of Cubs fans that are able to realize being the “lovable losers” was what bonded us all together as fans. The stories recounting past heartbreaks, being eternally pessimistic and waiting for another collapse bonded generations worth of failure in a way no fan base had, or will, ever experience.

The connection between two Cubs fans is so special because of the streak, not in spite of it. With this title, the Cubs got rid of part of what made the Cubs, the Cubs. ”

My mind was there, Wednesday night. As Rajai Davis turned around an Aroldis Chapman fastball in the bottom of the eighth inning for a game-tying two-run home run in Game 7, I sat in my basement wondering if this was the next addition to the list of infamous Cubs failures.

“Not again,” I said. “This can’t be happening again.”

But it wasn’t. And with a Ben Zobrist go-ahead double in the tenth inning, it was all gone. Eddie Vedder said in his song All The Way “Someday we’ll go all the way,” and, well, that someday is here, and it’s beautiful.

Rest In Peace: Lovable Losers, 1908-2016. You had a good run.