My esteemed colleague here at Major League Assholes sparked some much needed controversy on the blog and on Facebook earlier this week when he asked “Why are Cubs fans so insecure?” It’s the type of question meant to incite the kind of vitriol that we thrive on here at MLA.
I applaud Pete for coming up with a clever way to stir the pot in a city whose two baseball clubs are headed in completely opposite directions. With the White Sox losing 20 of their last 28 games and their panicked GM Rick Hahn shuffling washed up players like Mat Latos, Jimmy Rollins, James Shields, and Justin Morneau around the roster like deck chairs on the doomed Titanic all while the Cubs are being compared favorably to the best teams that have ever played the game. It’s gotta be tough to wake up in the morning and call yourself a Sox fan and still find ways enjoy the long season ahead. Obviously, the only option left is to attack the Cubs’ fanbase.
Despite his disingenuous claim that he wasn’t lumping all Cubs fans together, he got to me. I’ll admit it. I took the bait and answered his question with another question: How could Cubs fans not be insecure? It shouldn’t be too difficult to understand how 108 years of failure tends to make an impression on the human psyche.
But his underlying question was more interesting: Why should Cubs fans care about the Sox at all? Setting aside the irony of this inquiry coming from a guy who spends a large percentage of his online time writing about the Cubs (both positively and negatively), I’ll answer that one too. Because White Sox fans’ entire identity seems to be borne of a devotion to ripping the Cubs.
The Germans call it schadenfreude: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. It’s inarguable that another fanbase that has suffered through more misfortune than that of the Cubs and there’s no fanbase that has derived more pleasure from it than that of the White Sox. If you poke the bear long enough, don’t be surprised when it notices… then tries to rip your face off.
Beyond the constant ridicule, Sox fans draw our ire because they feel the need to constantly remind us of their 2005 World Series title as evidence of their superior status. They act like they all have a deeper appreciation of the game and their shit doesn’t stink simply because their similarly mediocre franchise has claimed exactly one more World Series title in the last 99 years. Hey, I can’t argue with the math — one is indeed greater than none — congratulations. Their misplaced arrogance is nauseating. Holding a decade-old championship over our heads only exposes their own insecurity and reeks of desperation.
Pete was right about one thing: the Cubs are playing some great baseball. Others like The Ringer’s Rany Jazayerli have done a far better job of describing just how empirically dominant this Cubs club has been than I could ever hope to, so I wont’ bother. I’ll just say I’ve never witnessed anything like it. No, I don’t know if the Cubs will win it all this year or not. No one does. That’s part of what makes sports fun. That, and busting your buddies’ balls over something as trivial as this.
Pete later accused Cubs fans of transforming from that tired cliché of ‘lovable losers’ into ‘miserable winners’ and I’ll admit he’s probably right about that too. If Boston Red Sox fans are now the gold standard for insufferable fans after finally ending their drought after 86 years, I can only imagine Cubs fans will go platinum after an additional 22. So be it. I’ll gladly take the insult if it comes with a World Series title on the North Side. Honestly, I couldn’t care less if Sox fans like us or not. It’s better if they don’t. But I can guarantee you I’m going to have a fucking blast watching every moment of what could be the most historic season ever. #FlytheW