The Day I Cheated on the Cubs

Before you freak out, it’s not that we aren’t Cubs fans anymore, because we are. You can’t just give up something like that; you’re born with it.

It’s just complicated… Here. Allow me to explain from the beginning:

When you grow up in Chicago or the surrounding region, you are raised to be a baseball fan from birth. Before you’re old enough to drool, your little baby closet is filled with Cubs or Sox onesies, t-shirts, bibs, pacifiers and tiny baseball mitts. Occasionally a few Cardinals fans will sneak in there (grr), but generally you are either a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan, and that’s just how it goes. It’s in your blood.

The Hubbster and I were both raised to be Cubs fans, aka to live lives filled with disappointment and heartache, all the while maintaining our “next year” optimism. Whether you believe in the curse of the goat or not, it is an undeniable fact that the Cubs haven’t won a world series since 1908. That’s 104 years. That means there are 100-year-old great great grandmothers living in that city who have never seen the Cubs win a World Series, and there’s a good chance they’ll die the same way. Depressing, right?

But we Cubs fans are resilient. Wrigley Field is always packed, and we somehow do manage to keep telling ourselves that next year is a new year. A fresh start. A clean slate. An opportunity to not royally eff it all up like  2003 (Sidenote: if you like sports, you should watch “Catching Hell” on Netflix. It’s about the Bartman interference and torture that was 2003. Really well done).

When we moved to DC, we took our Cubdom with us. It wasn’t a question really. We were born Cubs fans, and we will always be Cubs fans. And thanks to WGN America and an MLB package, the Hubbster could still watch every Cubs game. We went to see them play the Nationals on the 4th of July last year, clad in Cubs gear and cursing the baseball gods when they lost to the Nats.

Though to be honest, by that point a major shift had already occurred.

The Hubbster had adopted the Nationals as his–for lack of a better term–pitiful step brother. They weren’t very good, but he loves all sports, so he watched them. It helped that we started going to a lot of Nats games. I love live baseball, and Nationals Park is a beautiful place to see a game, so he doesn’t have to ever twist my arm to get me to go. They have great food and beer (among the plethora of alcohol options available), it’s easy to get to the stadium from the metro, and tickets are widely available and pretty cheap. We can get great seats for $20 that would cost us $80 at Wrigley (Now that I think about it, I think I’ve been to more games at Nationals Park than Wrigley Field. That’s a little embarrassing).

This season the Nats started off surprisingly strong. Then they called up Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old wunderkind who was drafted to the Nats minor league team when he was 17. Kid’s got a big bat, an arm like a rocket, and plays every inning like it’s the 7th game of World Series. After he was called up, he was wandering the Mall (a day or two before his first game), and joined in an intramural softball game that was going on. Just to play. Just for fun. I swear, every guy in this city has a giant man crush on him–including the Hubbster, who had the biggest smile on his face when he bought his Harper t-shirt.

Back in May, we had tickets to a game that was rained out. So instead of going to the make up game (because they were playing a double header, and we already had tickets to that second game. Yeah, right?) we decided to exchange our tickets for when the Cubs were in town. That game was yesterday. And that was the day we cheated on the Cubs.

We told ourselves that we’d be happy whatever the outcome. One of our teams was going to win at the end of that game. But as we left the house sporting curly W’s on our shirts, we had to be honest with ourselves: we were cheering for the Nationals. The big realization came in the top of the 9th inning. It had been a great defensive game for both teams, but especially the Nats. They were stopping everything in the infield, and came into the 9th up 2-0. Then the Cubs almost rallied. When the Nats were able to end the game, we stood up and cheered. We whooped, we hollered, we clapped. Then we looked at each other very shamefully.

It’s not that we wanted the Cubs to lose. It’s just that they have no chance of making it to the post-season, and the Nats do. The Hubbster has complete faith in Theo Epstein (seriously, it borders on worship. He freaked out when the Cubs hired him, I thought he was going to cry). But it’s going to be a few years before Theo can make the Cubs competitive. And until then, I’m sorry. But we’re rooting for the Nationals.

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44 thoughts on “The Day I Cheated on the Cubs

  1. I understand. I am a born-and-bred New England Red Sox fan, yet my dad grew up in Brooklyn, died when the Dodgers left in ’57 and fell in love again when the Mets were born in ’62. How can I deny the love that is my inherited lineage?!?

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  2. Although my teams don’t have quite the history of your cubs, my shameful moment happened when I first moved to Dallas. I was raised in South Texas, so I am a huge Spurs fan. Moving to Dallas, though, meant that I was surrounded by Mavericks fans. I can hold my own, but when offered tickets or a chance to go to a game, I’m gonna take them. And then I cheered for the Mavs. I felt dirty. I couldn’t believe it…how did I let this happen. After I got home (and drunk) I realized that it’s ok for me to cheer for another team, I just like watching basketball. But I will never cheer for the Mavs when they play against my Spurs.

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  3. As a lifelong Cubs fan who was also displaced to the east coast I must comdemn this shameless club-hopping! Growing up in Phillies territory, the Fightins have had a number of very successful teams. I typically attend
    two Phils games a year (tickets are brutal) and at least one of them is a Cubs game. You can pick an AL team no problem- the Orioles have been pretty good this year and their park is even better. You can even become a fan of a local NL team, as you have done. But once you root for the adopted team against your old team you must drop the ‘adopted’ label.

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    1. Hahaha I completely understand your condemnation. But what’s the harm in rooting for another team when the Cubs are already out of it? That’s my story, and I’m stickin to it!

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    2. Hahaha I completely understand your condemnation. But what’s the harm in rooting for another team when the Cubs are already out of it? That’s my story, and I’m stickin to it!

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    3. I’m with Matthew! I’ve been in the diaspora for 4/7ths of my life and my local is the Angels. The Cubs still reign supreme. Part of being a Cub fan is unrequited love and having hope when there is mathematically none. The moment you lose that; you’ve lost what makes Cubs fans the best — pure, unadulterated, blind love. Go Cubs, Go!

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  4. I really liked this piece. I used to be a big baseball fan, I picked the Yankees when I was a young girl because I liked the pinstripes. I learnt enough about the game to love every part of it especially the superstitions. When the Red Sox won the World Series I gave up baseball because the greatest sports superstition was gone… I’ve tried to get back into it but it’s just not the same without the Curse of the Bambino. I’ve always said that if the Cubs win a World Series it would set all that aright somehow and I would once again enjoy baseball…. Hmm I wonder if that makes me a Cubs fan..?

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  5. I’m about to make the move to Braves country (shudder) but I will not cheer for anyone but my Birds! Go Cards! It’ll be easy enough. I lived as a Cardinals fan in Atlanta once before and can do it again. Plus, it’s only been 1 year since we brought home the championship. 🙂

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  6. I totally get this. I’m a Mariners/Seahawks/former-Sonics fan from Seattle but after moving to L.A. I can feel a shift in the winds. Maybe we’ll just root for the teams here when they aren’t playing our home teams and then switch over when they are. I’m just glad I can have a clear conscience cheering on my husband’s university in football and baseball because my university never had a team to cheer for.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed. You have an adorable blog. I was pulled in immediately by the header/title because I have a Starbucks coffee addiction myself.

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  7. I’m in the same boat as you Jenny I was born and bred Chicago Southside 116th and Cicero to be exact so as to be expected I’m a Cubs fan a Bears fan and a Bulls fan. Rightfully a couple years ago when Bears and Colts went head to head for superbowl I cheered for the Bears and when sadly my brother rooted for the Colts I critized him, even though the Bears didn’t have a chance it’s still our home team. So I say this with a little disgrace when I have to admit that after moving to Paducah, Ky and living here for a few years and watching baseball with my pops that when the Cards and the Cubs went head to head for World Series I was at a loss as for which team to root for I mean honestly I like them both but come one the Cubs are the Cubs so I rooted for my Cubs and my pops rubbed it in my face when the Cardinals took home the series, but I wasn’t as depressed as I thought I would be, I want to go to the next Cards Cubs games with my pops it’s great bonding time and honestly they are my two favorite teams!

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  8. Great post, and congratulations on Freshly Pressed! But cheating on your Cubs? No no no no no. I cannot let this pass 🙂

    Going to a game as a neutral and picking a team (or cheering for both sides)? Sure. Cheering on your new local team? Absolutely. Cheering on your new local team against your own lifelong team? That’s a sin. Even if it’s the last day of the regular season, the Cubs are 0-161, and the Nats need a win to get into the playoffs. You cheer for the Cubs even when they’re losing 20-0 in the bottom of the eighth.

    I’m a lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur (who, like the Cubs, haven’t won it all for a lifetime (just the 51 years in our case), and who, like the Cubs, have a habit of messing things up whenever they start to look bright, and who, like the Cubs, have had to sit through their noisy neighbours winning championships while we grit our teeth… and who, like the Cubs, always sell out the stadium, because that’s what sports fans are like). I now live and work in Cardiff, a couple of hundred miles away from Tottenham, and so I go to watch Cardiff games when I can, because I like to watch football, and I cheer for Cardiff. But not when they play Spurs. No no no no no. 🙂

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  9. First of all, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Second, I have the same problem, although it has nothing to do with relocation. When I was around ten years old, back in the sixties, I started loving the Boston Red Sox. I lived in Mineral Wells, Texas, approximately 50-60 miles from where Rangers Ballpark is, now, in Arlington. Please note…the Rangers did not come to Texas until 1972. Now, I live less than ten miles from Rangers Ballpark. The Red Sox have been my favorite team ever since, but I agonize when they play the Rangers, especially in these last three seasons. Last year, I actually rooted for the Rangers against them. Like you, I felt shame. This year the Red Sox suck. I blame the Cubs for stealing Theo from us. Hahaha…. Seriously, I like the Cubbies. As a Red Sox fan, I feel a certain kinship with Cubs fans, even though our “curse” ended in 2004. And I’m glad you’re Cubs fans, and not “Other Sox” fans. By the way, the dumbest thing the Red Sox ever did, besides hiring Bobby Valentine as the manager, was trading Kevin Youkillis to the Other Sox. Nationals are freaky scary this year.

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  10. Beautiful post!
    I was born and raised in Mexico City. We had two baseball teams: The Devils and the Tigers. The Tigers were my team and they moved about 200 miles away; it was ok I still drove from time to time to visit them. Now they are all the way east in can-cun! Good luck with that! I go watch them when they are in town but its not the same, somehow the Devils have made it into my heart although I would never, ever, rout (?) for them against the Tigers.
    Funny story: First time I attended an MLB game was at Wrigley! I loved the way that park looked on TV and I got even more enamoured when I got to visit it. I was waiting in line to get a ticket and this senior citizen approached to me and asked if I needed only one ticket. I said yes and he just gave it to me; he has some season tickets and sometimes he just can’t find someone with whom to go to the games or to whom sell them. Of course I payed for the ticket, I offered 50 bucks and he was pleased, I guess it was fair, right? Long story short I enjoyed a fan appreciation game against the Rockies that went all the way into the 13th or 14th inning in a seat located about the 6th or 7th row, just behind that famous old couple who attend (or used to attend?) every game!
    Magical night at Wrigley that one; strengthened my love for the Cubs and Wrigley Field. I’ve been to other stadiums ever since, including old Yankee S. but the ‘field of dreams’ kind of vibe you get at Wrigley is hard to top. Whenever I go to Chicago again I’ll make sure I get in touch with him again.
    Congratulations on getting FPed and on writing a great post!

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  11. Loved this post. My family and I recently moved to Maryland after growing up in Florida and while we will always love the Rays, we are fully embracing the Nats. My 7 year old son justified our love on the Nats since they are in a different league than our hometown boys. 😉

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  12. We moved to the Chicago area about a year ago or so – we’re not sports people, except for play off games. So, a lot of this alludes me, case in point, just this morning as I was walking through a farmers market in my neighborhood, a man standing behind a booth selling green beans and tomatoes shared a baseball joke about the cubs and whitesox. Something to do with hotdogs. He cracked up over the punchline and I was absolutely lost. Not sure that I’ll ever understand this baseball cult, but I am certainly entertained by it. Great post!

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  13. Was an Expos fan since I was a kid and agonized over the lost 94 season and the continual loss of elite players to bigger markets. Still love the game of baseball, but just couldn’t root for the team when they moved to DC and picked the moniker of Nationals. I have great admiration for pitching and defensive play and nice to see this team enjoy some success, but I am left without loyalties in the game I love.

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  14. I’ve been a Buffalo sports fan my whole life, so I certainly know about misery. That being said, no matter where I end up in life, they will be the only teams I root for. Just can’t justify rooting for anyone else.

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  15. I like sports, too. I actually was in Chicago for the first time this past June and went to a Cubs game. They played the Mets and I was just excited to be at Wrigley Field. I bought a t-shirt and wear it every week. The thing is, I’m a Yankees fan and they’re on top. Only I’ve never seen the Yankees play other than on t.v., which just isn’t the same. I will next year, though. If you’re a real sports fan, then watching is fun and exciting and you can’t help get caught up in all of the hype – especially when you’re surrounded by a bunch of fans for the team you’re watching!

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  16. You think you converted, but Cubs fever is like malaria. Once it is in your system you never really get rid of it. You will come back to Chicago someday and love the Cubs again. Great piece.

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  17. I was born in Milwaukee, and during my childhood, although I was never *that* into baseball, I rooted for the Brewers. I’ve lived in Chicago for 14 years now and am married to a lifelong Cubs fan who lured me into Cub fandom. After the past couple of seasons, though, I’m starting to question whether I really have the stamina to be a Cubs fan the rest of my life! I’m also still somewhat of a Brewers fan, even though people tell me I can’t be a fan of both the Cubs and Brewers. I like to go to games when they play each other and wear paraphernalia from both teams. Really, the important thing is that we all hate the Cardinals!

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  18. I had a similar experience with football recently… my partner and I currently live in the D.C. area, but my family is from Texas. I happened to win tickets to the Redskins/Dallas game, front-row, 50-yard line (opposing team side) at my company last fall. It was an incredible rivalry game and surprisingly close, but I’ll admit I was glad the Cowboys pulled it off.

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  19. Monogamy when it comes to sports is over rated. I have my teams, but I also tend to follow the teams that are more closely associated to my location. As long as you stay true to your first love, you can support other teams that need it! (Except when it comes ot hockey, go leafs!)

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  20. When the Nationals came to DC, I watched many of my Oriole friends jump ship to the new team. I thought they were selling out to the National League. Still, baseball is baseball … and I know now that they’re still find people and fine friends! I’ll stick to the team that taught me to love baseball (Go O’s!) … but to find joy in a simple, slow and beautiful game is what it’s really all about. And, as long as the team has heart … I’ll give ’em a cheer. Thanks for sharing a wonderful story … and good luck to the Nat’s!

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  21. This post is so good. I can see this in a Chicago (or maybe a DC l, lol) magazine.

    Btw, I had NO intentions of EVER cheating on the Phillies and remained loyal during my years in Chitown.
    But, I was ready to jump in bed with Da Bears over the Birds pretty much as soon as I landed at Midway.

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