By Richard Cuicchi | October 31, 2016 at 05:48 AM EDT | No Comments
Chicago Cubs fans are noted for being among the most loyal in baseball. The true die-hards have to be admired for sticking with the club despite not experiencing a championship team in over a hundred years.
But now the Cubs’ pursuit of a World Series title has brought still more fans out of the woodwork. People who don’t even follow baseball at all, much less a specific team, are now pulling for the Cubbies to win their first World Series title since 1908. But that’s okay--this is great for major league baseball.
The Cubs ended the regular season with the best record in baseball this year, winning 103 games and beating their closest division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, by 17 ½ games. Most of these fair-weather fans were oblivious to that finish, until the Cubs starting winning games in the playoffs.
A case in point. My wife can’t be classified as a baseball fan, although she will occasionally watch baseball games on TV with me and has accompanied me to numerous live baseball games. Once she even weathered six games in four days with me at Spring Training in Florida few years ago. But she doesn’t normally claim a favorite major league team and couldn’t have named one player on the Cubs roster before the playoffs. But all of a sudden now, she’s interested in how the Cubs are doing on a daily basis. She’s now familiar with names like Joe Maddon, Kris Bryant, Andrew Miller, and the latest headliner, Kyle Schwarber.
Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a bunch more people like my wife who have jumped on the Cubs bandwagon since the playoffs started. It’s cool to be a Cubs fan right now. Everybody likes to pull for the team trying to rise to the top.
Certainly, you would expect the people in Chicago to be fervent Cubs fans. The Wrigley Field experience is like no other in baseball, except maybe Fenway Park in Boston. In recent years the Blackhawks are the only sports team in the city that’s experienced a championship. The other pro teams in Chi-town haven’t had much success. The Bears haven’t practically had a good team since Mike Ditka was “Da Coach,” and Michael Jordan has been long gone from the Bulls. There’s some competition from the White Sox on Chicago’s South Side, but not really. So the Cubs’ resurgence in the last couple of years has the city clamoring to see all the curses broken that have supposedly plagued the Cubs.
Back in the early days of cable TV, the Chicago Cubs gained a national following even though they were mostly a mediocre team. All 162 of the Cubs’ games were broadcast each season by superstation WGN which became one of the favorite channels in countless households across the country back then. A lot of kids grew up on Cubs baseball with Harry Caray as its broadcaster. Now, a lot of those kids are adults who remember the lean years and are anxious to finally be rewarded for their loyalty during all those lean seasons.
Cubs followers are witnessing something their parents and grandparents were never fortunate enough to see during their lifetimes. The ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field turns red in October, but most Cubs fans don’t know that because the Cubs have rarely played in October.
Perhaps the Cubs’ success and attention this season, even if they don’t win the World Series, will keep some of their new-found fans for years to come. And there’ll be even more people singing the popular “Go, Cubs, Go.”