Cubs fans (Getty Images )
I was on Sheffield Avenue the other day when a very drunk man dressed like a Chicago Cub barfed on him passed by me shouting homophobic slurs at everyone in sight, and I knew baseball season had begun.
Because I'm a veteran of the North Side whose sports loyalties remain in the dismal smog of central and northeast Ohio, I obviously hate the Cubs. What Cubs fans don't understand (although some might) is that it would be a disaster if the Cubs actually won the World Series.
Sports are entirely about mythmaking, about camaraderie and shared illusions. The Cubs exist within a very particular myth and if—like the Red Sox—they were to dispel the myth, their fans would become just another cluster of d-bags in a big-market city whining about how they can't win it all every year. If there is any joy in rooting for the Cubs, it exists only in this narrow vector of hope and despair. Trust me, Bartman did you a favor.
However, the thing I hate most about the Cubs is this: I don't actually "hate" the Cubs. I "sports hate" them, meaning I don't actually care at all either way. I have no statistical evidence to back this up, but I feel as though the Cubs have a disproportionate number of fans suffering form sports derangement syndrome (SDS).
You know the people I'm talking about. The reason we have sports is to take our minds off of all the disappointments and despondencies of our actual, for-real lives. This is an utterly obvious truism that never has to be said out loud because it's so utterly obvious. Yet every once in a while you meet a guy who clearly believes in his heart that if one bunch of multimillionaires win a child's game over another bunch of multimillionaires, it will be the equivalent of curing cancer or overturning Roe vs. Wade or some equally society-shattering event.
I'll let you in on a secret, people with SDS: You make everyone uncomfortable and no one actually likes you. We want to have loud arguments about sports, scream when our teams do well and moan when they fail, but when it's over we still want to go back to our lives and not act like a pissy 5-year-old who doesn't get that next year his favorite player will be on a different club of multimillionaires.
The fan who gets this is actually the better fan than the one with SDS because he or she understands that cheering for a team is not actually about the team but about the group of friends and family to which that cheering binds you. You're not actually rooting for the millionaires but for a kind of shared faith with the people you most want to experience joy with.
Which is why I'll probably end up meeting a girl who will be a die-hard Cubs fan, and after two or three summers of going to games with her, I'll find all those loyalties switched, the prejudices fallen, and myself wishing that the baseball team I once wrote a column about how much I hated can pull off a historic World Series win.
REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR STEPHEN MARKLEY IS THE AUTHOR OF "PUBLISH THIS BOOK." REDEYECHICAGO.COM/MARKLEY