By Rikki Greenberg
There’s always been something mystical and alluring about the Chicago Cubs. Whether it’s the players (Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg), the broadcasters (Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse) Cubs fans consistently pack the house every baseball season.
One would think that after the huge letdown of last season’s NLDS and the already skeptical start to the 2009 season (Milton Bradley’s suspension and groin injury, Aramis Ramirez’s possible trip to the DL and the team’s mediocre start, enthusiasm for another “Lovable Losers” season would begin to fade, like the blue dye on a really old Cubs t-shirt.
The repetitive disappointments of almost-but-not-quite-there season finishes have truly begun to take their toll on the Cubbie faithful.
“I know that I am [bitter], said Paul Schmidt, sports writer and TSB contributor. “I felt as though the moves they made were classic overreactions to problems they had last season.”
Other Cub fans try to remain true to their optimistic nature, but concerns over habitual negative patterns create a conflicting mix of emotions.
“I feel like as a true fan, you should ALWAYS be optimistic about an upcoming season,” said Danny Jay, a lifelong Cubs fan living in California. “On the other hand though, what is it going to take for them to stop messing it up? Who knows? It’s hard to have faith for over a century.”
Other concerns over player troubles and performances complicate the path to World Series greatness and leave some fans shaking in their Cubbie boots.
“Our bullpen makes me nervous, with Marmol the only one I trust in sticky situations and close games,” said Scott Pinshower, a Cub fan since 1983 who’s well aware of his obsessive Cubbie nature. Cub fans are definitely a jaded bunch. Who wouldn’t be after the quest to be World Champions is still going on after 101 years of setbacks?! After so many years devoid of happy ending, some Cub fans keep their emotions in check until the Cubbies reach the playoffs.
“I’m interested, but not as interested as I will be if they make the playoffs,” said John Brown, a fan who has been pledging allegiance to the Cubs for 23 years. “Last year hurt so much that now it doesn’t matter until the playoffs.”
For David Kmiecik, TSB Vice President and college hoops expert, the feelings are similar.
“For me, it’s almost gotten to the point where what the Cubs do during the season doesn’t mean a thing,” said Kmiecik. “They need to win a playoff series or even a single freakin’ postseason game before Cub fans might stop any bitterness.”
The fact that Cubs fans are taking a backseat approach to the 2009 season doesn’t come as a surprise. There’s only so much gas you can have in the tank before you hit empty. And the Cubs in October provide this feeling, if you add in a scenario with no gas stations around for miles. The members of Cubbie Nation will likely not start burning rubber again until something good happens in the playoffs, but given past performances, I’m not sure there will be something to go crazy about.Follow paulmbanks