An Open Letter From A Real Fanbase

An Open Letter From A Real Fanbase

Cardinals fans,

 

The article titled “An Open Letter To Cubs Fans From The Best Fans In Baseball” is the most backhanded complimentary piece I’ve ever read, with the title being the most misleading part. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I went into the piece with an open mind, trying to see what the argument was, but when I saw it was just another way of saying “your fans are worthless and you’ll never win the World Series”, I decided a realistic look at the two sides was necessary.

 

The hardest part of writing this piece was finding a position to start at for why we “don’t have the best fanbase” and the Cardinals do. Could it be that the Cubs have only been to the World Series two more times than the Cardinals have won it? You believe that the Cardinals fanbase is built on loyalty and trust, when in reality it is actually built on winning. Now having a fan base built on winning isn’t a bad thing, but it’s pretty much the definition of bandwagoners. Cubs fans, on the other hand, have had to endure 108 years of losing, 71 years of only seeing “Cubs” and “World Series” in the same sentence with the word “drought”, and only reaching the second round twice since 1945. Since that 1945 World Series loss and the “Billy Goat curse”, the Cardinals have won six World Series Titles, been to five more and lost, and been to the playoffs nine more times. That’s five more titles than the Cubs have, 10 more World Series appearances than the Cubs have, and 12 more playoff appearances as a whole than the Cubs have. The Cubs fans have had to deal with the “modest” Cardinals fan base all that time. Let’s take a look at the difference in the teams since around the time you and I have been born (1996 and 1994 respectively). Since 1996, the Cardinals have been to the playoffs 13 times, with four World Series appearances, including two titles. The Cubs on the other hand have made it to the playoffs six times, with one World Series appearance (that they won by the way). So by you claiming that the Cardinals are the best fanbase, it’s false.

 

In our lifetimes, the Cardinals fanbase is just the largest bunch bandwagon fans in all of baseball who don’t know the losing way. If any other team in any sport went 100+ years without a championship, the team would be disbanded or moved (just look at the Expos). There is no way that the Cardinals fans would be at the stadium, day in and day out, if the Cardinals were in the midst of eight consecutive losing decades. Now when I say losing decades, I don’t just mean decades the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. I mean decades that the Cubs have gone without a winning record.

 

Beginning in the 1940’s, the Cubs have been below .500 every decade; yet, through all the goat piles left on the field at Wrigley, Cubs fans have been there. Let’s take a look at the statistics between the two ball clubs and why the Cubs fanbase seems to be more loyal. Since 1945, a combination of all the St. Louis ballparks averages 26,066 fans in the stadium per game, almost a full 4,000 more fans than the Cubs 22,261 fans per game in that same period… BUT, let’s take a look at seating capacity. The Cardinals multitude of ballparks averaged 48,153 seats per game, as opposed to the Cubs 38,750 on average. If we look at the percentage of stadium filled, it goes the Cubs way by a slim margin of 57-percent to 54-percent. You can still throw out the argument that the Cardinals do in fact have more fans coming into their ballpark than Cubs fans do, but when you have more fans coming into a game than Cubs fans have seats, it doesn’t mean much. Not to mention, the numbers for the Cubs don’t even include the rooftop seating across the street, which adds roughly another 750 fans and 1000 seats every game, bringing the percentage up just a little higher. Not to mention, the whole city of Chicago isn’t even Cubs fans. We have to split our city with the White Sox, but if there was only the Cubs, I can guarantee the Cubs wouldn’t have a stadium big enough to fit everyone.

 

There’s a reason the fanbase is called the “loveable losers”. It’s because no matter what happens with our team, we’re there. For most other teams, they take pity on us with that name, but as Cubs fans, we’ve embraced it. 108 years of being the loveable losers would pay off, and it finally has. There’s a reason that when you go to any ballpark in America (or Canada thanks to the Blue Jays. RIP Expos), you will see more Cubbie blue and hear more “Let’s go Cubs” chants than the home team receives. There’s a reason the Cubs fans, who sit in the bleachers, are called the “bleacher bums”.

 

Here’s a history lesson for all of you out there. Before the lights came into Wrigley Field on April 8, 1988 (rain delay forced the 7th to be postponed), Cubs fans could be found in the bleachers every day. The fanbase was alive and well during those days, with most games beginning at 12 or 1 pm. That would mean that the fans would have to skip work or take precious vacation days to go see their beloved Cubbies. It was mentioned that the organization isn’t the best in history, and it isn’t.

 

The Yankees organization is the best in history because they have the most titles. The Cubs are just the most interesting organization in history. The organization has had to go through (once again) 108 years of despair. They have had to keep the fans coming back for more, season after season, in hopes that it could be the year, even though the fans would get depressed. Despite all the depression after losses, game after game, season after season, fans kept pouring in. Even people who are fans of other teams know that one of the top destination spots is “The Friend Confines of Wrigley Field”.

 

It’s a magical place where, yes, the beer flows and the party begins. It’s a party every night because you go to Wrigley and “party” with 42,000 of your closest friends you’ve never met. You could walk into the bleachers and people around you are offering you to take part in side-bets and offering to buy you those drinks, because it’s like you’re with family. The Cubs organization has allowed this to happen by keeping the ballpark friendly. The organization has the owners, president, general manager, walk around the park during games, saying hello to the fans and having a couple brewskis of their own, telling the fans it’s a family-friendly place to be. This organization took a 100-loss team, only two years ago, to a 100+ win team and a World Series title. They may not be the winningest organization in any sport, but they’re up there as one of the best.

 

You claimed you asked Cubs fans some of the players they knew, and Sammy Sosa was the first to come to mind. You make it seem like it’s a bad thing to know who Sosa was. When a player hits .284, with 545 homers and over 1,400 RBIs in Cubbie Blue, that’s a pretty good guy to remember. Now they could have gone back to some of the classics such as the names up on the foul poles (Fergie, Ernie, Billy, Ryno, Maddux, and Ron), but why? Sosa is the most current of the Cubs greats before this new regime. A Cubs fan knows the history of their team, forward and back. The back-to-back World Series titles in 1907 and 1908, “The Called Shot” by Babe Ruth in the 1932 World Series off of Charlie Root, the Billy Goat Curse in the 1945 World Series against the Tigers, the 1969 race against the Mets where the black cat ran by of Ron Santo, the 1984 Bull Durham ball between the legs against the Padres (The Buckner play before Buckner pulled it, two years later), the 2003 Bartman Ball followed by a gold-gloved Alex Gonzales error, the 2007/2008 back-to-back sweeps in the first round of the playoffs, all the way until this year, when the Cubs broke the curse with one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

 

Now when I say greatest teams, it’s tough because it’s a different ballgame nowadays. The 1927 Yankees had the best firepower, but they couldn’t play with the players nowadays. The hitting is 10x better because the pitching is 10x better. There’s a reason there have been four of the seven players in the 600 home run play in the last 10 years. There’s a reason there are more no-hitters and perfect games than ever before. The game is evolving and it’s getting better and better.

 

One of your points is that the Cubs are not facing deadly lineups anymore. That’s true for the central. It was a fairly week division, but it’s not like the Cubs only played the central. The Cubs took 5 of 7 from the star-studded Nationals, where they had to go up against a batting title champion in Daniel Murphy, and perennial MVP candidate in Bryce Harper, and one of the top pitching staffs headed by Cy Young, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg. The Cubs may not have faced the Killer Bees, but they faced the top pitching rotation in baseball history (and the top closer in the game) with the Mets, and you face those pitchers for 8+ innings, not just 12 at-bats a game.

 

The only argument I could ever see as to why “Cubs fans don’t count” is “you only have the widest fanbase because of WGN”, Well, sorry the organization was smart enough to strike one of the first national TV deals, prompting millions of non-Cubs and non-baseball fans to become Cubs fans, because they could watch them everyday. The Cubs have a higher percentage of their ballpark filled everyday, and that’s including a ton of day games still. At least 75-percent of Cardinals fans may wear red on game day in October, but that just proves it is a bandwagon fanbase. Cubs fans are wearing blue every day to support their team, win or loss. I have lived with lifelong Cardinals fans the past four years, and I’ve never once seen them cry tears of sadness or joy after a Cardinals game because they’re numb to emotion. You can see Cubs fans with tears in their eyes, one way or another, because they know how much their team means to them.

 

I work with predominantly Milwaukee Brewers fans, and we disagree on every sport, but the thing that always brings us back on the same page is the hatred of Cardinals fans: not the team, but the fans. I don’t think you can be the best fanbase when you’re the most hated across any sport. The bottom line is it’s ridiculous to think that the Cubs don’t have the best fanbase in baseball.

 

 

 

 

P.S. Brief side-rant: the AMAZING 2004 Cardinals have 1 potential Hall of Famer on the team with Albert Pujols (Edmonds should have been but was kicked off last year). The 2004 Chicago Cubs had just as many Hall of Famers because of Greg Maddux. Pretty sad considering the Cubs didn’t make the playoffs. No player in the Cy Young contention (Cubs had Zambrano) and no Cardinal won the NL MVP. The Cubs team this year had a player WIN the NL MVP award and two pitchers in the top 3 in the Cy Young voting. Not to mention, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young winners the year before. The Cubs platooned five positions all year long, and started five players, age 25 or younger, setting them up for the future. The bench players could have started on a lot of other teams in the league, so when you have that depth on a team, it makes you one of the greatest teams in history, especially after solidifying it with a championship.

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