Here we are, Super Bowl Eve. The upstart Atlanta Falcons are underdogs against the 9-time AFC Champion New England Patriots. Those damned Pats. Stupid Tom Brady. Smug Hoodied Bill Belichek. Did I hit them all? The Patriots are the NFL team people love to hate, long ago supplanting the Dallas Cowboys.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is next moth. There sit the stupid Duke Blue Devils, and their cocky punk Grayson Allen and that sniveling coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Oh look here, the Evil Empire New York Yankees are reloading. They have one of the best set of prospects that money can buy. What a shocker.
Thank GOD Notre Dame sucked eggs in 2016 (4-8). The last thing anyone wants to see is THEM winning. Hey, how do you know which guy at the party is a Notre Dame graduate? Don’t worry, wait 2 minutes…he’ll tell you.
What do all these teams, and their MULTIPLE championships have in common? They are successful. Because of their repeated and sustained success, they are the teams people love to hate. People don’t hate the San Diego Padres. They never win. The Cavaliers? How cool! They FINALLY won! Good for Cleveland!
And now Spring Training is less than two weeks away. The Chicago Cubs FINALLY broke their 108 year old curse. Did you know that the Titanic still hadn’t even been built when the Cubs won in 1908???
In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the Cubs were a decent team. Good enough to stay in contention into August or so before succumbing to fate. The 1984 team was assembled with pieces from other teams, particularly GM Dallas Green’s former employer (Philadelphia Phillies) and meant to at least make noise for a few seasons. 1989 snuck up on so many of us. 2007-8 was an amalgam of odd parts which just seemed to click when put together.
Then there is 2003. The lineup was a group of salty veterans augmented by a solid and YOUNG pitching staff. THIS was the Cubs team that was going to win now and for the foreseeable future.
But that never happened. Mark Prior’s career came to a screeching halt with a series of injuries. Matt Clement just never took off. Carlos Zambrano was solid, even throwing a no-hitter, but fell victim to an amalgam of off-field issues. The curse seemed real…
So people continued to pull for the Cubs. These cuddly baby bears. EVENTUALLY the breaks will just HAVE to go their way.
Then came 2016. The current edition of the Chicago Cubs was built to contend. Not contend in 2016. Not contend for 2 or 3 years. This team was built to win for a long time. And now others have stood up and taken notice. These are no longer the lovable losers. The Cubs are the favorites. And people do NOT like that.
It used to be cool and hip to throw $20 on the Cubs in Vegas. Everyone wanted to be “that guy” who hits on that 100-1, 200-1, 1000-1 chance that the Cubs would win. If not? It was just twenty bucks…
No more. Lay that Hamilton (Tubman) on the Cubs now, you would barely break even. This PAINS people. They don’t want to see the Cubs in a position of prominence. They see what is on the horizon, and they don’t like it. It’s all well and good to see the Cubs make the playoffs every few years. It’s fine to see them make it to the NLCS and find new ways to fail. They are the Cubs, after all. This? This is unacceptable! They are poised for success. It would be utter failure if this team did not win another World Series or two (or three, or more…) in the next decade. And frankly, this does not sit well with those who abhor success.
I’ve never cared for the Fighting Irish…their arrogance over winning 11 college football championships (success) is grating. Their fans more so. Duke? Take those stupid 5 championships and 16 Final Four appearances (success!) and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine. The Yankees? Oh, please. They think they own Major League Baseball or something with their 27 World Series Championships and 40 AL Pennants (Success!) or something! Now the latecomers, stupid cheating Patriots. 9 Super Bowls (Success!)? Oh, please. Stupid Brady (successful!) and Belichek (GOAT?). Yeah…people love to hate success.
I said my goal, as a Cubs fan, before the 2016 season was not simply for my team to win the World Series (which, they did). My goal was for people to HATE us (The Cubs and Cubs fans) as much as teams like Duke, the Yankees, et al are hated. Because I knew that meant that the Cubs were successful–lovable losers no more.
This team is close to that level of disgust. I hope they waste no time getting there.