This year’s world series was certainly an interesting one. Any other year, a Chicago Cubs-Cleveland Indians matchup would be a test of Major League Baseball mediocrity and an intense case of good-natured ribbing in my family.
You see, my mom’s entire family is from Cleveland and are huge Indians fans. Grandma Sally was born and raised in Cleveland and has been an Indians fan all her life. My dad’s entire family lives in Illinois and is split, in typical Central Illinois fashion, nearly in half Cubs/Cardinals. Grandpa Bill likes the Cardinals, Grandma Bev liked the Cubs and everyone else sorted themselves accordingly.
For those who don’t know, the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is arguably one of the biggest in sports, on par with Yankees-Red Sox, Celtics-Lakers, Army-Navy and Lafayette-Lehigh.
The Cardinals have always been my team, my dad’s team and my grandfather’s team. Hating the Cubs was instilled in early childhood, a learned behavior. The choice for whom to root for in this World Series should have been an easy one. It was either the team I hate more than people who clap after movies in theaters (#petpeeve) or a team my mom and her family adore.
But I shocked everyone when I found myself rooting for the “Lovable Losers” from the north side of Chicago. There were too many cool storylines to toe the rivalry line and hope for yet another championship heading back to the city of Cleveland this year.
The “Lovable Losers” lived up to their name… without the losing, of course.
Most talked about is the 108 year title drought the Cubs were trying to erase. Granted, the Indians drought just entered its seventh decade, but essentially no Cubs fan would have ever seen their team win the World Series. For you history buffs, Theodore Roosevelt was president, the Ottoman Empire was still a thing and the Model T had just entered production in 1908 when the Cubs last brought home a championship trophy.
Outside of the losing streak that made Cardinals fans and their 11 World Series Championships so happy for so long, are personalities like David Ross and Joe Maddon ’76 who made the Cubs an undeniably likable force for fans like me to dump their bandwagon support.
The camaraderie between David Ross, the Cubs’ retiring back-up catcher who Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo call Grandpa Rossy, and his teammates is just downright adorable. His #YearLongRetirementParty is almost unheard of for a back up catcher, but for a player as beloved by his teammates and city as Ross, the attention is much deserved and the second World Series ring is the best retirement gift they could have given him. And his solo home run in Game Seven certainly didn’t hurt my affinity for him.
As for Maddon, my Lafayette pride runs deep. He’s just one of the coolest characters in baseball, period. Forget Bryce Harper’s campaign to “Make Baseball Fun Again,” Maddon is doing a good job of that on his own. He brings a certain style, whether it is his smart managing approach, snazzy glasses, hilarious themed team trips or fantastic one liners — of which “Try not to suck” is a shining example. If nothing else, I cheered on a Lafayette alum who is unabashed in his support of this school.
Does it make me a traitor to root for the Cubs in the very moment I should have been rooting the hardest against them? Maybe so, but that’s something I can live with given the cast of characters doing the winning.
Now don’t make me regret this, Cubs fans. The win was well-deserved, and you did a great service to your city and National League fans the country over. But take your win quietly and prepare to lose the division to the Cardinals once again next year.