I stayed up way too late last night watching the Cubs win the World Series… not a sentence I thought I would ever type.
And what a great story it was. The longtime underdog, this team had the ultimate Cinderella story and took their first World Series win since 1908. Many people have been waiting a very long time for this win. Seven game series, extra innings… inspiring, right?
If I say congratulations and that I am happy for them am I being sincere?
Yes and No.
I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan, have been since childhood. I love baseball. I used to play catch and practice batting with my dad in our yard. The Cardinals would be on our TV most of the summer. We would go to at least one game per summer, sometimes more. Posters of players adorned my wall. The 1982 World Series banner stayed on my wall for years until it was yellowing and curling at the edges.
St. Louis Cardinal fans take their baseball very seriously. And part of being an STL fan is hating the Chicago Cubs. When I say hate, I don’t mean anything personal by it. Any sports fan who supports a team with a natural rivalry knows what I am talking about. The rivalry between these two cities is long standing. The Cardinals have historically been the better team with far more NLCS and World Series wins (that would be eleven, but who’s counting?). I will admit that as STL fans we are a bit spoiled. We are used to being in the postseason, we may even feel a bit entitled. So the fact that we didn’t make the playoffs this year and the Cubs freaking won the entire thing… yeah, that stings.
Did I actively root for Chicago during the playoffs? NO. No, I couldn’t do that. I actually lived in Cleveland for four years so I rooted for the Indians. And by the way, want to talk about underdogs? The Cleveland Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948 (not as pitiful as 1908 but still). Cleveland has also been the punchline for years, the city (river on fire, anyone?) and the sports teams (Browns, I’m looking at you. And I see you, too, pre-LeBron Cavaliers).
Did I really want the Cubs to win? No.
When they won last night after ten tough innings and they were hugging and crying and the crowds were going crazy, did I feel that tug in my heart? That feeling of victory and pride that a true sports fan feels for their team when they have beat all odds against them and come out on top? Admittedly, YES. We’ve been there before, we’ve won many times (again, eleven). It is an awesome feeling. Generations of Cubs fans have never felt that first hand until last night. I have been fortunate enough to experience it more than once for the Cardinals.
As unnatural as it felt, I was able to soften my heart and give them their moment and even feel a bit of happiness for them (it still stung, though).
Just this once, Cubs. Next year the Cardinals are coming for you.
*photo from cbs.com