By ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
Growing up a Cubs fan is hard. Even if you don?t follow Chicago?s north side team, you probably know that to be true. But you really can?t understand how hard it is until you?ve been in a Cubs fan?s shoes.
When you put on a Cubs hat in public, you are doing two things. First, you are showing your loyalty to a team that, despite having the second most wins in Major League history and a plethora of World Series appearances before the mid-forties, hasn?t won a championship the last 107 years. They say you should marry a Cubs fan because he?ll be loyal to you no matter what.
The second thing you are doing is opening yourself to criticism. Now, I know that no matter what professional sports team you support, there will be ?haters? but nobody gets it as badly as Cubs fans.
Here in Iowa, it?s not as bad. Due to having no MLB teams, the state is pretty split on whom we support, but the existence of the Iowa Cubs AAA team tilts the statewide support to Chicago. But drive just a few miles south and it?s a lot worse.
When I went off to my first year of college at Hannibal-Lagrange University in Hannibal, Mo., the Cubs and Cardinals were in a close division race that, if the Cubs could?ve won, would have given Chicago it?s third straight division crown. We didn?t win, and we haven?t even come close since.
Sure, I?d been around St. Louis fans before. Half of my family that pays attention to baseball supports the Cardinals, and they let me know it every time we talk. But being around the self-proclaimed ?best fans in baseball? 24/7 is an experience all its own.
In all four years of college, the Cardinals had a better record than the Cubs. I put it that way so I didn?t have to say they were ?better.? It would?ve been redundant for me to admit they were better anyway, as I was reminded of it daily, whether it was baseball season or not.
To Cardinal fans, the Cubs are public enemy number one every single day of the year. I?ve decided the reason for that is because St. Louis doesn?t have a basketball team and nobody really supports the Rams, so they are all cheering for different teams during football and basketball season.
In any other city-to-city rivalry, the fan bases can go back and forth throughout the year. If the Red Sox have a bad season and get pestered by Yankees fans, they can always bring up the success of the Celtics or Patriots. Cub fans can?t do that, because a good portion of Cardinal fans cheer for the rest of the Chicago teams.
It must be a thrill to be the hated rival of a franchise that hasn?t won a World Series since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Enough of a thrill that you may feel like the immortal gods of baseball, despite only winning two titles of your own since the early 1980?s, which is the same number won by the Twins, Marlins and Blue Jays over that time period.
But it?s hard to fight back against fans of a team that have been to and won nine more World Series? than the ?lovable losers? even if a big majority of those championships happened before my lifetime.
So when I see a promising group of young Cubs tearing it up in the minors or spring training, it?s natural for me to dream. Dream of the Cubs winning it all and raising the ?W? flag at Wrigley Field in late October when the last game is won.
But if this team is the real deal and if ?next year? really is here for the Northsiders, only 95 percent of me will be filled with joy and happiness. I?ll save the other five percent for revenge with a little poor-sportsmanship.
And when I make my return trip to the state of Missouri to visit my dear Cardinal fan friends, I?ll get to ask the question I?ve been dying to ask since the day I was born. ?Hey, when is the last time the Cardinals won the World Series??