By Joe Darby
I think I may be the only American outside of northern Ohio who was not pulling for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series.
I write this on a deadline, Wednesday afternoon, several hours before the final game of the series was set to start. So as you read this you will know whether the Cubs or the also long-suffering Cleveland Indians are World Series Champs.
I hope the Indians won, as they have gone 68 years without winning a series. Nothing to compare to the Cubs’ 108 years, I’ll grant you, but it’s still a long time.
The funny thing is, I used to be a Cubs fan. Like many people, I’d watch the Cubbies on TV, enjoying the broadcasting of the inimitable Harry Carey, as he called the game with his own special brand of enthusiasm and then, at the seventh inning stretch, lead the crowd in a great rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Like my colleague Junior Johnson, who wrote in these spaces recently about a great trip he and some friends took on Amtrak to Chicago back in the 1980s, Mary and I took Amtrak’s City of New Orleans to Chicago in 2001.
I was a regular at the New Orleans Zephyrs games in those days and they had a baseball trivia contest in which the prize was an Amtrak coach ride to the Windy City from the Crescent City and back. The trivia question one night was: Who was the only major leaguer to hit 100 or more home runs with three different teams? I knew it was Reggie Jackson, with the Oakland A’s, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels.
So, we won the trip and we upgraded to a small compartment rather than ride in a coach for the 19-hour trek.
We stayed in a neat little hotel just a few blocks from Wrigley Field and watched two games, one of which saw Sammy Sosa launch a home run ball right past us into the street. We also took a couple of days to rent a car and drive down to Springfield, Illinois’ capital, to visit the hometown sites related to Abraham Lincoln. Walking through the Lincoln home gave me a great feeling of connection to the man.
Anyway, as you can see, I used to like the Cubs. I particularly liked them when former LSU great Todd Walker played for them for a couple of years in the early 2000s. Then a few years later, former LSU stars, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, were half of the Cubs’ starting infield.
What happened to change my mind on pulling for the Cubs? I can’t really say. Maybe it’s just because their fans are so darned desperate, which I no doubt would be too if my team hadn’t won the big one in 108 years. But something about the Cubs began to put me off.
Everyone said they were lovable losers, so I began to think they should perhaps stay that way. Hate to see a great streak, even a losing streak, broken, I felt.
Mary has remained loyal to them. She’s not a great baseball fan but she does love the Cubs. When I was informing her about the Indians’ early victories in the Series, she told me, “I just don’t want to hear about it.”
She even said a little prayer during game three, which the Indians won anyway. I teased her and said I didn’t believe the Cubs were God’s favorites because they hadn’t won for more than a century.
By now, you will know whether what I said was true, or whether the Great Umpire in the Sky was finally awarded the Cubby fans with an early version of their own heaven.