Cubs fans need love, too

As April rolls around, I find myself once again getting revved up for  another year of the Chicago Cubs. I’m hoping Lee and Ramirez will be as solid as ever, I’m hoping Zambrano and Marmol will keep it together, I’m hoping Soto will prove as good this year as he was as a rookie. I think I can speak for most Cub fans when I say that no matter how badly the previous season ended, I’m excited, hopeful and ready to go come spring.

It takes a lot of heart to be a Cubs fan. It’s not just rooting for the perpetual underdog; it’s rooting for the perpetual disappointment. Why else would we nickname our team the Lovable Losers? If you’re going to follow the Cubs, you’re making an emotional commitment and putting your heart on the line every day of the summer and – if you’re really lucky – the fall. Which is why I don’t have much respect for fans of teams like the Yankees or, lately, the Red Sox – it’s too easy. It doesn’t take much to like the guys who almost always win. And that’s part of the reason I pride myself on loving the Cubs year after year: it shows I’m loyal and optimistic and resilient.

That said, Cubs fans get a lot of grief. We’ve heard it all – 100 years, Bartman ball, Billy Goat curse … and yes, swept last year after one of the best regular seasons in club history. We know, you don’t have to remind us. But Chicago is a very divided city when it comes to baseball, and the South side hates the North side with a vengeance. Growing up, even in a Northwest suburb, we Cubs fans got plenty of hate from the Sox fans, especially in 2005. And now I live in Missouri with a huge population of Cardinals fans, who also live in the past and gloat about their World Series win. (It’s not that either team has been good since, it’s just so easy when the Cubs have gone a century without.) I never cared about the supposed Cubs-Cards rivalry until coming here, and boy to those St. Louisans hate the Cubs. Upon meeting someone from St. Louis I’m usually asked, “Cubs or Sox?” They’re hoping I’ll say Sox and bond with them over Cubs loathing, but I don’t, so I’m met with a grimace or some other display of disgust.

Which brings me to an interesting thought – what’s the motive to hate one of the (arguably) worst teams in the history of baseball? Isn’t is considered cheap to kick a man when he’s down? In my experience, Cubs fans don’t hate the White Sox or the Cardinals nearly as much as the other way around, and it’s not like we beat them that often, so where is all the anger coming from? More often than not, what Cubs fans really need is some sympathy and a hug. We’ve got enough rivals, we need an ally (Royals, maybe?). Even an opposing fan should be able to appreciate how hard we work to stand by our boys day after day, and they should cut us some slack once in a while. It’s a hard life as a Cub, and we know that better than anybody.

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