Perhaps you're familiar with me, perhaps you're not. Maybe you listen to me on the radio during your morning commute, maybe you don't. For some, this could be one of our first interactions. But no matter your familiarity with me or your opinion of me, you’ve probably caught win that I’m the guy on The FAN who waves his “W” flag around with pride as often as the ghost of Harry Caray will allow. But I need one thing to come across and I need to make it very clear...
I am not a Cubs fan.
However, I do not hate the Chicago Cubs. In fact, I don't even really dislike them. There may even be times this season that I find myself rooting for them to succeed, and the World Series very well may be one of those times. BUT...
I am not a Cubs fan.
I can’t believe I need to do this, but this is important for the future of how I'm perceived by you when I scream through your radio. I feel the need to proclaim that I'm a Milwaukee Brewers diehard. I have pages full of 1980's era Brewers police cards, I have boxes full of Miller Park ticket stubs. My favorite number is 19 in part because of Robin Yount. I saved the newspaper clipping of the first game I went to at County Stadium, an 8-7 Brewers win over the Orioles. I still have the Bob Uecker call of the clinching Ryan Braun home run on an old iPod I still use. I drank the bar out of what I thought was champaigne (it was cheap wine) when Plush hit home the winning run in 2011. And I think, most telling, is that I will gladly pay full price for a ticket here in 2016.
So how has it become, at a station that has an afternoon show host who will wear a Cubs hat, Cubs jersey, and Cubs shoes (!!!) all on the same day during the middle of winter!, how has it become that I am the resident Cubs fan?
Well, here’s how.
1. I've admitted that I've liked the Cubs before - I have admitted this, and it is true. As a 6-year old kid thirsty for baseball in the late 80's and early 90's, the Cubs were the most accessible team. On television nearly every day, rather than just the one time a week a Sunday Brewers game was aired on Channel 12, the Cubs were there to fill my appetite of the game. My love of Paul Molitor and Robin Yount was rivaled only by Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg. One of my very first memories is sitting along the first base side at Wrigley with my parents and grandparents as we watched the Cubs take on the Mets. Remember, Milwaukee and Chicago were in different leagues - they never played each other - and it was okay to like both. And I did! But that was then, this is now. Think of all the things you liked when you were a kid. Things change.
I am not a Cubs fan. But, they were my gateway into becoming a baseball fan.
2. I predicted that the Cubs would win the World Series this season - This one drives me up a wall. I have learned quickly that if you say anything nice about a divisional rival, you suddenly become appointed a fan of that team. What is up with this way of thinking? I predicted last season that the Vikings would win at least ten games in 2015. "THAT MAKES YOU A VIKINGS FAN, BART". No, that makes me right. They won 11.
I predicted this season that the Cubs would win at least 100 games and win the World Series. "SEE, HE'S A CUBS FAN!" Well, let's take a look at the standings. My Google Search for MLB Standings is showing me that the Cubs have the best record in baseball, and that they are on pace to win 117 games.
I am not a Cubs fan. But, I can overcome being petty and admit when a division rival has talent.
3. There are players that I like and they happen to wear Cubs jerseys - Is this the lynchpin? That purely as a baseball fan, I like the makeup of the Northsiders? Yes, I like Joe Maddon. I like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber. Fantasy baseball dynasty leagues play a role in that. I like Theo Epstein. I like seeing teams that blow it all up to rebuild earn a payoff for their progress. I like that the Cubs climb back up to the top of the NL Central shows the current Brewers regime that it can be done.
I am not a Cubs fan, but I do appreciate good baseball.
4. You HATE the Cubs, I don't - Throughout all sports, there aren't too many teams that I actually Hate. For the most part, I either love them or am indifferent to them. I don't Hate any of the Yankees/Lakers/Cowboys/Duke contingency. Not worth my time. I don't Hate the Bears or the Lions. I don't like when they win, sure, but I don't Hate them.
I guess there are only two teams in sports I really truly Hate. Teams that if they were retracted I wouldn't have any remorse for, and teams that I can't really understand how you'd become and stay a fan of their particular organization. The teams that I'd say I Hate are the Vikings (who I gave credit to just moments ago, remember, because that’s not forbidden) and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs are not in that class for me. I can get how you'd grow up and root for the Cubs. I can see a world in which the Brewers don't exist and I'm a Cubs fan as an adult. Yeah, it sucks when Wrigley North is a reality, but I don't Hate the Cubs because of that. Put me in the "Don't Hate the Cubs, Hate a lot of Cubs fans" camp. Most of them are harmless, really. But it's the sheer quantity of how many Cubs fans there are in your home building that can be tough to swallow.
I am not a Cubs fan. But I get why someone would be.
Are those four things enough to make me a FAN of the Cubs? No. I don’t watch every game first pitch to final out like I do the Milwaukee Brewers. I can’t rattle through the Cubs 40-man. I don’t plan trips, outings, bachelor parties, dates, to Wrigley Field. Miller Park is that destination. I don’t feel in my heart for the Cubs what I feel for the Brewers. You know the Craig Counsell commercial on Fox Sports Wisconsin where he basically says we’re all the same because we’re stuck rooting for the Brewers? He’s talking to me in that commercial too. And I did tear up the first time I watched it! That’s a fan. And the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s my team.
As for the Cubbies, here's my mission statement: The Chicago Cubs are a team that I liked until I was about eight years old. I respect their organization and appreciate their rebuilding efforts. I like a lot of the guys on their team. It's annoying when Cubs fans takeover Miller Park. I picked them to win the World Series and it wouldn't ruin me if that actually happened. In fact, I'm kind of sick about hearing about how they are cursed. Just win one already. And if they are going to, it might as well be when the Brewers are this bad.