We fully intended this day to put the boot into Cubs fans for their incessant whingeing about curses and chokes and 100-year waits and how the team doesn't deserve its fan base and all the other post-NLDS topics.
But an odd thing happened between Saturday night and Monday morning. Cubs fans went silent. They chose to drink in private, and grouse to each other rather than making us feel their pain. They behaved the way fans should behave at times like this -- like sullen, embittered grumblers who just want to be left alone.
|Were Cubs fans in hiding Sunday ... or just watching the Bears game? (AP)|
Sure it's an empty gesture, but it is the way of our culture -- offer anything, provide nothing but a doleful smile and a pat on the back as you ease toward the door.
Cubs fans, you see, get it, and in ways we thought them incapable. I mean, they went on and on about 100 years without a World Series, and how this year would be different, and how Lou Piniella had finally tapped into the boys' inner non-Cubdom.
And then they became filled with dread once the postseason began because they were facing the Dodgers, the 2006 Cardinals to a man. They apparently were so miserable that they moped their way through the first two games and ruined the boys' chances, even though we suspect that the Dodgers' pitching and Cubs' fielding had a lot more to do with it.
But once the deed was done, a quick and merciful finish all things considered, the fans went home. They did not wear us out with their angst as some do (see York, New), or jump up and down and tell us they were the best team anyway (see England, New). They did not make their misery our problem, nor did they expect us to reach out to comfort them. They would take it if offered, but they weren't waiting around with their arms folded and tapping their feet angrily while they waited for you to give them a hug.
Do you have any idea how refreshing that is? How libertarian? How stereotypically Midwestern? How "Yeah, it sucks for me, but I'll deal with it. Old Style here, barmaid, and keep 'em coming"?
Of course, we don't recommend this in most situations. Lots of people need real, tangible help in these difficult times, and being the first to offer aid is a good thing.
But in sports, everyone has enough problems with their own teams. Take Raiders fans last week. They watched their franchise burst into flames and throw off acrid smoke yet again, and did they ask for you to make them feel better? No. Many of them wanted either Al Davis to retire or Lane Kiffin to die, or was it the other way around? Either way, they turned inward, ready to throw down at anyone who tried to buck them up. They weren't in the mood for your support, and they didn't make their shame, your shame. You have to give them that, the poor delusional sods.
And so it must be with Cubs fans. Oh, there were a few media gasbags who wanted to make this a bigger deal, but they were doing so on their own. The fans would not give them any self-pitying B-roll because, well, it's a family thing.
Now we would expect if someday the Cubs actually did win it all they will be as obnoxious and self-amused and full-on annoying as Patriots fans, or Yankees fans, or whoever-wins-the-SEC-this-year fans. There's no getting around that. They do demand that we share their joy, no matter how miserable it makes us.
But we have a choice, too. We can become sullen, embittered grumblers, and drink somewhere else, somewhere they can't find us. It is our right.
So here's to Cubs fans, who kept us out of their pity parties, who didn't run to the first schmo with a camera and pour out his or her wretched life story about living an entire lifetime without the Cubs winning the World Series and acting as though we were supposed to give a damn. We don't, and thanks to them for understanding that.
Or maybe it was just a football Sunday that kept them indoors, and they're planning to start in on us today. God, we hope not.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.