Root For the Cubs
By: Connor Lenahan
For the first time in my lifetime, the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series. For the first time in my dad’s lifetime, the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series. For the first time since my grandfather was 10 years old, the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series. Needless to say, this is a big deal, and I am shocked that there is anyone outside of the Cleveland metro area that isn’t pulling for the Cubs.
Many people close to me have rightfully questioned my baseball allegiances over the years. I was brought up as a Yankee fan in the days of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. I loved those teams as I grew into baseball, but living hours from New York I never had the connection with the Yankees that living in Boston has allowed me with the Red Sox. Given my proximity to Fenway Park, it’s kind of hard to root against Boston, and I’ve found myself rooting for them more than I root for the Yankees, largely because I followed Jeter and Rivera rather than the team as a whole.
With that in mind, I still have rooting interests elsewhere. I like when the Los Angeles Dodgers do well because Clayton Kershaw is my favorite active athlete in any sport. But I also root for the Cubs for a number of reasons. For one, they are essentially Red Sox 2. Theo Epstein has built the team around former Red Sox like John Lester, David Ross, and John Lackey, while also employing another personal favorite of mine – Jason Heyward. Throw in absurdly entertaining, talented young players like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrietta, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, and Dexter Fowler and suddenly the Cubs are a likable, crazy talented bunch.
But I’m not rooting for them purely because I like them. I’m rooting for the Cubs because we have a legitimate chance at sports history in front of us, and I would very much like to see that happen. Baseball is a rich game that is tied with the United States over time, and most of the most incredible days that the sport has had to offer are sadly in the past. During this decade the two most memorable baseball moments from the postseason are the 2011 Cardinals-Rangers series and Madison Bumgardner’s all-time performance in the 2014 World Series. Baseball commanding the same attention as the NFL or NBA doesn’t seem likely, and with decently good reason, but when the stakes are 108 years of futility and pain for one of the most iconic franchises in sports? We can spare some headlines and viewer attention.
Earlier this year we got what will likely be remembered as one of the most important NBA Finals series in league history. The stakes ranged from the winningest regular season team in history, who happened to employ the twice-reigning MVP and three of the 12 best players total in the league at once, to a franchise that had never before won a title led by the best basketball player since Michael Jordan trying to change the entire course of his career, his legacy, and perception of a full town in the matter of seven games. This finals lived up to that hype and then some, seeing people sway from rooting for dominance to actively cheering one of the biggest underdog teams in history, ethos of franchise and city included for good measure.
This week allows us to potentially see the Cubs win a World Series for the first time since four years before the Titanic crashed. For as much hardship as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the city have gone through over time, the Chicago Cubs have forever been waiting. Millions upon millions have lived and died hoping to see a moment that is now three victories away. The magnitude of this moment cannot be overstated.
The counterpoint to the Cubs is their opponent, the Cleveland Indians. While the Indians have been similarly stymied over time, the magnitude is not even remotely the same. The Indians lost a heartbreaking World Series Game 7 in 1997 and last won in 1948. While terrible, during Game 1 of the World Series the Cavaliers were receiving their championship rings in the building next door. The Indians deserve to win another World Series, but they have at least had a chance during my 22 years on this planet. The Cubs haven’t even made a World Series since 1945. This series is for the Cubs. Their wait needs to end.
Sports allow us an escape from the hardships and realities of the world. We watch sports for entertainment and use them as an extension of our lives. Baseball is the sport most closely tied with the ethos of America over time. The chance we have to watch a perennially put-upon team, one that has played in one of our most iconically American cities, overcome demons that predate most aspects of modern American life is one that may unfortunately never come again. We need to appreciate it in the moment. We need this moment during a year where it looks like our country is filled with nothing but negativity and anger. We need a reason to hope.
Has there ever been a team that better embodies the idea of undying hope than the Cubs? I didn’t think so.
In no small way, the Chicago Cubs are our best hope are rectifying what has been a historically strange year in our collective culture. It will not fix everything. Not even close. But the sun would shine just a little brighter on a day in which the Cubs get to raise the W for a World Series victory at long last. I’d very much like to be able to witness such a day. Go Cubs.