The Cubs Have Ruined Baseball

Originally published in The Fordham Ram on November 9, 2016.

maddon

Cubs manager Joe Maddon won his first World Series title this year. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Well everyone, it’s been fun. Time to pack it all up. The Cubs have won their first World Series since 1908, and baseball as we know it is through.

Teaching baseball to a young kid for the first time generally follows a simple script. There’s a pitcher and a batter, the batter tries to hit the ball and run the bases, there’s three outs, and the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. But all of a sudden, someone is pulling on the loose thread in baseball’s fabric. Give it a couple more years and we’ll find ourselves in the middle of the street as the final thread of our shirt falls away and people run away in fear of our farmer’s tans. Do you see what you’ve done, Cubs? You have me thinking about standing in Times Square shirtless and now you have other people thinking about it and everything is awful.

I’ll be honest, I was rooting for the Cubs. I just kind of assumed that the Cubs were never going to make the World Series, let alone win one, in my lifetime or any lifetime. The Cubs were more than just the “lovable losers,” they were a baseball standard. Take that away and what do we have left?

Now every team is going to try and emulate the Cubs. They’re all going to want a smart manager that makes good decisions at least 90 percent of the time, but also has a lot of fun and is personable has his players dress in funky costumes. They’re all going to want an impressive group of young, home-grown players that can all mash. Everyone is going to be clamoring for curse-breaking general managers who can both swindle other teams in trades to amass talent but also aren’t afraid to spend money, and to do so smartly. All of the teams are going to try and snag an uber-attractive third baseman who is so freaking adorable that he smiles as he makes the final out of the World Series. Everyone is going to want a collection of both starting pitchers and relievers that lead the league in ERA by almost 0.4. And everyone is going to want a David Ross, a catcher resilient enough to play in the Cubs’ last two World Series appearances.

But we can’t be having that, now can we? We can’t be having baseball evolve in the face of ever-growing contracts and questions about its popularity. We can’t have baseball have some of its highest TV ratings ever as America’s new pastime, the NFL, is dropping in ratings. What will the United States do if, while trying to make itself great again, its finest art becomes appreciated as such?

2017 baseball will not be my baseball. In fact, it probably won’t even be your grandparents’ baseball either, unless your grandfather is Grandpa Rossy. Instead, we are going to be watching the beginning of a revolution, one where the Cubs aren’t the holders of the longest title drought in professional sports and relievers have less strict roles.

I liked being able to pity-root for the Cubs. Their drought was everything good and bad about baseball rolled into one depressing package. I’ll be dead before I do the same for Cleveland.

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