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News » Cubs look good, but history not on their side


Cubs look good, but history not on their side


Cubs look good, but history not on their side
The White Sox won the World Series. The Red Sox won the World Series — twice. And now we must pose a question that seems, at once, to be perfectly rational and totally insane:

MLB roundup


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Photo gallery:


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Greatest Yankee moments:


The All-Star Game (July 15, FOX) will be the last one played at Yankee Stadium. As we say goodbye to the "House," Dayn Perry busts out his list of the best moments from Yankee lore. POLL: Vote for your favorite!

Can the ... uh ... you know ... Cubs win the World Series?

The Cubs have the best record in baseball, the biggest run differential and a 14-game home winning streak. Considering they play in the weaker league, they should probably be the World Series favorite right now.

And yet — you may have noticed this, it's in the logo and everything — they are the Cubs. They have not won the World Series in a century and have not participated in one since 1945.

I wonder: With the Red Sox and White Sox winning the Series in recent years, is the Cubs' 100-year drought a bigger story or a smaller one? On the one hand, they are pretty much alone in the Teams That Have Not Won In Forever club now. On the other hand, we have solid evidence that these droughts can be overcome.

I'm not from Chicago. But I've drunk enough Old Style at Wrigley ... ah, who am I kidding? You can never spend enough time at Wrigley. Anyway, I'm familiar enough with the North Side to know that the mindset of Cubs fans is different from the mindset of Red Sox fans or White Sox fans a few years ago.

Red Sox fans looked at themselves in relation to the Yankees. (I'm generalizing here — that's the whole point. Of course there are exceptions.) Boston teams had often been very good and occasionally great — there was a sense that the Red Sox should have won three or four championships after trading Babe Ruth, but something always went wrong. Boston fans knew the Sox could win the World Series. They just doubted that they would.

White Sox fans were in a weird spot — their team was historically inept, but not as historically inept as the lovable losers on the North Side. They wondered if their time would ever come. But they couldn't really play the "woe is us" card every day, because woe had permanent residence at Wrigley. So they looked down on the Cubs as the real losers and mocked Cubs fans as preppie/frat-boy know-nothing bandwagon-jumpers. Sox fans always felt they — not Cubs fans — were the ones who deserved a championship.

Cubs fans are different. Their collective identity is wrapped up in losing. They live in an endless spiral of baseball depression: the more they lose, the more it proves they can't win. The team's appeal is based on a beautiful old ballpark and losing. That's it.

You can say that the fans' mindset shouldn't affect the players. But it does. There is a reason teams play better at home in virtually every sport.

When Steve Bartman interfered with that foul ball in 2003, the most telling part of the whole thing was Moises Alou's reaction. He was furious. Bartman had not cost the Cubs anything, except a potential out — in the play-by-play, his gaffe went down as a Marlins foul ball. The Cubs still led 3-0 in the eighth inning of a clinching game.

Yet Moises Alou, a 36-year-old veteran, who had spent his entire life around Major League Baseball, was furious. It was as though even Moises Alou just needed a little confirmation that the Cubs were not supposed to win. After that, Cubs pitcher Mark Prior threw a wild pitch, shortstop Alex Gonzalez failed to field an easy ground ball, and it was a total team meltdown — the kind that never happens to, say, the Dodgers.

That, friends, is what the Cubs must overcome. They are on pace for the best record in the National League and the best home record in baseball. But if they lose Game 1 of a playoff series, they will be drilled with 947,000 questions about their mediocre road record. There will be a sense of impending doom around their team.

Maybe that shouldn't affect them. Maybe it won't. But it might.

The Cubs are in first place. Chicago wonders what will go wrong. In the next few months, we'll see if the Cubs can block out the worries in the city and win one of the most memorable championships in the history of American sports.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 24, 2008

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