Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red Sox-Cubs

Now that the Cubs are in town, there's been a lot of talk about the parallels between the Cubs and Red Sox.

A lot of people say the Cubs are the National League's version of the Red Sox. Both teams have in common long championship droughts. Before 2004 the Red Sox had gone 86 years without winning a championship; and, ironically their previous championship before then came in the 1918 World Series against the Cubs. The Cubs have gone 103 years since their last World Series title.

Both teams have histories of coming ever-so-close to ending their drought, epitomized in 2003, when for about four hours there was a very real chance the Red Sox and Cubs would square off against each other in the World Series, though ultimately both teams lost their playoff series in agonizing fashion.  

I like the Cubs (except when they play the Red Sox, obviously). They're a team that's fun to root for. Their story is one of the Lovable Losers. They always appreciate me, as a Red Sox fan.

Yet, to me, that's why the similarities between the two franchises end here.

I've been to Wrigley Field. It's a great place to watch a ball game, particularly on a Friday afternoon day game. But that's the thing. Despite the Cubs heartbreak in 2003 (and other years), Cubs fans treat Friday afternoon at Wrigley like an early weekend, and opportunity to play hooky from work, grab an Old Style brew and start the weekend early. Wrigley is more of a bar than a baseball stadium. When I'm at Wrigley, I feel like I get more annoyed when they lose than the Cubs fans. Even after 2003 and the Steve Bartman incident, Cubs fans seem to be enthralled with just being there.

Myself on the other hand, as a Red Sox fan, I felt like I wore the pain of 1978 (the first baseball game I ever watched) and 1986 and 2003 (and even 1975 and 1967 and 1949 and 1948 and 1946, even though they were before my time) on my sleeve, though after the Sox' circuitous route toward winning the 2004 World Series and then winning the World Series again in 2007, all the pain feels like a means to an end. The Cubs are the lovable losers, but the Red Sox fans are Miserable Losers.

You could just as easily say the Cubs are the National League Cleveland Indians or the Red Sox are the American League Philadelphia Phillies, based on those teams well-publicized droughts in their histories.

So, as much as I can appreciate the Cubs and their drought, they are a completely different entity from the Red Sox.

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