Congratulations, Cubs fans. Now don’t become jerks

Published 8:17 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

When dawn broke this morning, it was cool and foggy in Mississippi. Down in hell, it was 30 degrees and snowing. Through the mist, I heard the whine of an airplane engine high overhead. Turns out it was a really big pig enjoying its first flight.

We’ve woken up to a world in which the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions. Anything is now possible.

Seeing the Cubs celebrate their first title since 1908 on Wednesday was a surreal experience. Like a lot of kids of the 80s, I grew up watching some of their afternoon games on WGN and listening to Harry Caray drunkenly stumble through some of Major League Baseball’s more consonant-heavy names.

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Even my dad, a lifelong and diehard Phillies fan, had a soft spot for the Cubs. It probably helped that half of their 1984 NL East championship team was made up of Phillies castoffs.

How could you not root for the Cubs? They stunk. Even when they had good teams they found ways to screw it up, from the black cat in ’69, to Leon Durham in ’84, on to Bartman in ’03.

And yet there I was last night, rooting for Cleveland to extend the Cubs’ drought to 109 years. What turned me was their fans — not the misery they’ve endured, but the jerks they might become. It happened quickly with Boston fans after the Red Sox and Patriots emerged as dynasties, and “lifelong” Cubs fans were already crawling out of the woodwork. I think there are 22-year-olds fondly remembering listening to Caray, who died in 1998.

Bandwagon jumpers annoy me.

In the end, though, I found myself smiling after the final out. There was Anthony Rizzo, behaving like a wide-eyed fan himself as the game unfolded and carefully sticking the game ball into his back pocket as he ran to join the dogpile. There was 39-year-old journeyman catcher David Ross, who plans to retire, writing a storybook ending to his career with a clutch home run. I’ve always had a soft spot for guys like him.

It made me realize that, for now, these Cubs are good guys and a fun team. Maybe that’ll change in a few years when they and their fans expect to win. Maybe they’ll become as annoying as Boston fans have. Or maybe they’ll keep a level head and appreciate it all.

Congratulations to the Cubs, and their fans. You’ve earned it. Now enjoy it without becoming jerks.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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