By Jay Menard
I’ve realized that I really don’t want the Chicago Cubs to win. After all, if they’re not the lovable losers that we’ve known for over a century, what are they?
Just another team. And that’s nothing special.
It may even be boring.
Admitting my bias out front as a Montreal Canadiens’ fan, I also never want to see the Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Again, if they win, what are they? Just another team.
But now? They and their fans are a study in arrogant hope. A belief, without any foundation in reality, that this is their year — that the Leafs are the NHL’s finest franchise with no success since 1967 to speak of! There’s a calendar-like certainty of comfort knowing the highs will be inordinately high and the inevitable lows will eventually, undoubtably, appear.
Admit it, what’s more entertaining? Hearing Leafs’ fans cling to a early-90s-era Wayne Gretzky-fuelled conspiracy theory explaining why they were robbed of the 1993 Stanley Cup? Or the Leafs being just another of a couple of dozen teams who haven’t lost long enough to be interesting, or won much of anything to be inspiring.
And I count my beloved Habs in that list. 1993 was a long time ago. The days of seven years between Cups being considered a drought are quaint memories for me now.
We love to hate dynasties. The New York Yankees and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat teams are seen to have “bought” their way to glory. And even though it’s been a few years since the Yankees spent their way to success, they’re still tainted by that stench of purchased entitlement.
We want to see winners, especially repeat winners, lose. We want to see David conquer Goliath. We love to see our championships earned, not purchased.
But what of the other end of the spectrum? We love our losers. They’re unique.
There’s a comfort in knowing that the Cubs are susceptible to a Bartmanning at any given point in a series. Instead of getting angry, we shrug it off, laugh, and say, “Oh, that’s the Cubs.”
For 107 years, we’ve had comfort in the Cubs being lovable losers. We even have ascribed mystic elements to their losing — the Curse of the Billy Goat being the source of their continued torment.
They’ve become lore. They’ve become a team around which we can all rally, because we are securing the knowledge that they’re going to fall short.
For generations, the Curse of the Bambino was passed along to kids whose parents had never seen Babe Ruth play. Yet once that curse was broken, the BoSox have become a markedly less interesting team. And once a curse is broken, the lore and mystique that surrounded it is gone forever.
We stand on the precipice of a World Series that could see a Cleveland franchise, with 67 years of futility under its belt, face off against MLB’s most notable lack-of-success story. If that’s the case, one team is going to suddenly be a whole lot less interesting.
So forgive me if I root root root for the Dodgers. Because I don’t want either Cleveland or Chicago to become boring.