A 105-year World Series drought does not just happen; unless you’re the lovable losers of course.
The Boston Red Sox broke the 86 year curse of the Bambino in 2004, and the Cross town White Sox broke their 80-plus year drought in 2005. Both 2004 in Boston and 2005 on the south side of Chicago were magical seasons, as any fan of either team would undoubtedly explain. Other than those two, there have been no droughts even close to the one the Cubs are currently enduring.
Just what is it exactly that prevents the Chicago Cubs from having one of these miracle season that ends in a world championship? The answer is quite simple, they can not win a World Series until the fans and players actually believe that they can.
Those who have been Chicago Cubs fans for long enough know exactly how things go when it comes to watching Cubs baseball. If the Cubs have a one run lead in the ninth, they expect it to be blown. If the Cubs leave runners in scoring position early in the game, they know it will cost them the game. These are just things that Cubs fans know. These expectations for failure are essentially self-fulfilling prophecies.
Since Cubs fans, and some players I’m sure, expect to go out and disappoint every year, as soon as there is a sign of trouble there is a collective, “Here we go again” throughout the north side. There was no better example of this than that night in October 2003, which every Cubs fan wants to forget.
To any other professional sports franchise it would have just been another foul ball hit out of play, but for the Cubs, Luis Castillo’s pop up down the left field line which Moises Alou failed to catch due to Steve Bartman’s interference would become another chapter in the anthology of agony that is Cubs baseball.
Maybe if Alou hadn’t reacted so angrily no one would have noticed, but either way the Cubs still had a three run lead with one out in the eighth inning and a chance to go to the World Series. But after Bartman knocked that ball away and Alex Gonzalez muffed an easy double play ball, Cubs fans everywhere just knew that it was all over. It didn’t matter that they had two more at bats to mount a comeback, or that they would be sending their ace Kerry Wood to the mound in game seven.
It was over.
The Cubs just didn’t have a chance, because as soon as something went wrong everyone instantly said, “It was only a matter of time before they blew it”.
The 2003 NLCS is the most glaring example of an attitude that has surrounded the Cubs for a long time. This attitude is a disease which infects all who love and watch Cubs baseball. It is transmitted to new generations of Cubs fans through tales of Leon Durham’s botched ground ball in 1984 and the Bartman saga in 2003. Cubs fans need to stop the spread of this infectious attitude and start to believe that their beloved Cubs can win a World Series.
It seems that sometimes Cubs fans almost enjoy the role as lovable losers so much that they don’t mind when the Cubs do things that would make high school coaches pull their hair out. Perhaps Cubs fans need to be reminded that although being lovable is great if you’re Winnie the Pooh, being a loser is the worst thing to be called in all of sports.
While a $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field is great, and all the talent in the minor leagues is excellent, the most important thing that the Cubs organization needs to do to win a World Series is convince the fans, coaches, players, ball boys, ushers, grounds crew, and everyone else that that they can win a World Series.
While the Cubs organization waits for their young talent to reach the major leagues they should ponder a new team slogan. To combat the unofficial Cubs slogan of “Wait til’ next year,” the Cubs should adopt something that would be able to get Cubs fans to believe in the team. What Epstein and company should do is implore Cubs fans everywhere to ask themselves, “Why not this year?”