Sunday, February 27, 2011

That Toddlin’ Town

Green Bay Packers fans rejoiced with their cherished Super Bowl champions during a frigid ceremony on Tuesday February 9th to welcome the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau Field after a 14-year absence. It was the fourth time the city of Green Bay was able to celebrate winning the Super Bowl, giving the small city in northeastern Wisconsin 13 total NFL championships.

Undoubtedly these championships have bolstered more than the spirits of the people of Green Bay, especially this year what with the state of the economy. But this blog isn’t about the city of Green Bay and winning championships.

This is about a city with the longest championship drought in North American sports, that toddlin’ town, Chicago.

Typically, championship teams attract more fans. Those fans don't just spend money at the stadium, they go to dinner before or after the game, or they go to sports bars to watch their favorite team. All of those activities generate tax revenue for the city.

In addition, having a major league franchise, especially a championship franchise, helps cities in attracting new business. If a company is looking to set up a regional headquarters, or relocate, they're much more likely to choose a city which has a vibrant sports scene and a history of winning championships.

None of these are problems for the city of Chicago. All of their teams have large fan bases, there is a very fervent nightlife and it doesn’t seem to have any problem attracting new business.

At first blush, you wouldn’t think that there would be much of a problem winning championships either. And there isn’t. As recent as last year, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Prior to that, the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 and the Bears were the Super Bowl champs in 1985.

And not to be forgotten are the six NBA championships that the Bulls procured during the ‘90s. So what is the problem team in Chicago? Who is this perennial loser? Who is this team that can’t seem to get it right?

The Chicago Cubs, that’s who.

The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 and haven’t even appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945. In fact, the Cubs’ last World Series win came before the other three major U.S. professional leagues were even founded.

That’s a 102-year championship drought.

In sports, a drought refers to instances in which a team has gone on a lengthy period of time without winning a championship. Droughts occur for a variety of reasons, from chronic mismanagement to seemingly bad luck.

Some fans believe that their team’s drought is the result of a curse. The Red Sox fans attributed their 86-year drought on the Curse of the Bambino. In Chi-Town, it’s the supposed Curse of the Billy Goat that is responsible for their prolonged absence of a championship.

So based on this historic dry spell, you would think that I might have a soft spot in my heart for these lovable losers and pull for them to finally break this horrendous streak.

Not a chance.

Even with a good many of my friends being longtime Cub fans, I just can’t bring myself to rooting for the Northsiders. It’s impossible to do this based solely on the longevity of their ineptitude.

If that was the case I would be rooting for the Sacramento Kings to win the NBA championship purely on the fact that they last won one in 1951 when they were the Rochester Royals.

If I used the logic that “they’re due”, I would have to pull for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hell, they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since the 1966-67 season.

And I’m certainly not going to hope that the Arizona Cardinals win the Super Bowl just because they haven’t won a championship since 1947. Especially when you consider that the franchise was located in Chicago at the time.


That’s probably the reason I can’t pull for the Cubs. They are the Chicago Cubs. Not the Louisville Cubs or the Duluth Cubs. They are the Chicago Cubs.

I don’t know why I have such a problem with Chicago. It’s not just the fact that they have some of the most obnoxious, delusional fans in the world. No, it’s more than that.

Perhaps it’s the arrogant notion that ketchup is not allowed on hot dogs. Who made Chicago home to the gods of frankfurters, anyways?

Also, the way they try to pretend that the Taste of Chicago should be mentioned in the same breath as Summerfest has always annoyed me. Please, it’s not even close.

How about that ridiculous “Dibs” thing that goes on during winter. Only in Chicago can you have lawn furniture and card tables in the street holding parking spaces. That’s real normal.

On a grander scale, maybe it’s the rich tradition of fine Governors that the state of Illinois has produced. Gentlemen like, Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. A really classy bunch.

Speaking of politics, let’s not forget Richard M. Daly and his glorious 20-year stint as Mayor of Chicago. Although his corruption charges and Federal investigations were prolific, it was his actions prior to his failed Olympic bid that ruffled my feathers the most.

It was special the way he shipped Chicago’s most undesirable characters out of the city in an effort to make it a more desirable place to host the Olympics. Suddenly, neighboring cities had a new supply of ne’er do wells to contend with. Thanks, Richie.

Okay, enough already, I can’t do it. I just can’t pull for that toddlin’ town and their Cubs. Not unless I am also being forced to root for the Sacramento Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Cardinals. It just isn’t going to happen.

Until next time…from the booth.


Leplume said...

You know, I lived in Chicago for four years and I have true love for the city. All of the things you rant about are the quirks that make Chicago...well, Chicago! Because at the end of the day, with the ketchupless hot dogs, lawn chair parking spot holders and even my hapless Cubbies...Chicago doesn't really put on airs. It's just a city full of working stiffs like us getting along the best they can. Besides, you left out all the really great things about Chicago. Like The Art Institute, the museum of Science and Industry, all the amazing theatre and art galleries and neighborhood eateries of as many ethnic foods as you can think of! I love Chi and, yes, I loves me some Cubbies too! How can you not love a team that rarely if ever wins but still packs the bleachers on a warm summer day! You're right about the politics though but even that's good for a laugh! :)

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Hey Mary Beth! Did you really expect me to include any of the wonderful things about Chicago? I wasn't sure whether or not to bring up the governor thing. Our current guv would fit in well with that bunch. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Anonymous said...

Snot Walker wouldn't last 3 seconds in Chicago politics. That's true hardball down there, baby. And you gotta have the juice behind you and all your ducks in a row when you make a big pitch. That, he ain't got! Read "Boss", still a great book, 35 years later.

Kool Papa

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

I agree, John. We have to talk. Do you ever answer your phone?