Tuesday marks the beginning of yet another October.
It marks baseball’s grandiose postseason and the path to the Fall Classic.
But for the Chicago Cubs, NL Central champ, this Red October.
Some stories start out with, “a long, long time ago.” Others use classics such as, “once upon a time.”
But when telling the tragedy of the Cubs, none of these illustrations seem especially appropriate.
Within sports, we’re often willing to look past a team’s overall failures or disappointments. We tend to note current issues, glancing with relevant criticism, never establishing some sort of long-term standard. We might demand changes, call for firings, and in some extreme cases, even wear paper bags over our heads to hide our shame of fandom.
But never in American sports history have we held franchises up to a league-wide standard that demands performance and requires results.
It’s time to implement such a standard.
This is where these affable Cubs enter the foreground. They don’t call them the lovable Cubbies because they’ve won fans over with glee. Fans in Chicago who love the Cubs are forced to do so in the same way as brother is forced to love his sister.
October 2008 marks the 100th year since the Cubs won a World Series title. A century of time has encompassed a stock market crash, two World Wars, a freakin’ moon landing, the discovery of penicillin, and 27 different World Series champions.
It’s time to impose the Century Standard – that’s what I would do if I were commissioner. Teams need to be held accountable for their actions.
Simply put, if I was commissioner and a team came through my tenure that hadn’t won in 100 years time, I’d simply banish them from the league for impotence.
I don’t think one in 100 is too much to ask.
Think about it. Since the Cubs’ won in 1908, the Giants left New York, the Athletics left Philadelphia and Kansas City, while the Braves left both Boston and Milwaukee.
Since the Cubs won in 1908, teams from Canada, Kansas and Arizona have won World Series titles.
The Cubbies have shown their indifference to success while at other times, their simple and unique inability to obtain it. They have shown to be the unfair example in many analogies and in any comparison. Most importantly, however, they have not proven they belong in the big leagues.
Make the Cubs a minor league team if you have to. Just take away the status they clearly haven’t earned.
Absurd beyond logic? Well, it never hurts to draw a comparison and for that I must allude to English football (soccer as we know it). In Europe, most leagues require their clubs to meet a certain standard of success or risk losing esteemed status, that is to say, risk being relegated to a lower league.
And it happens not every 100 years, but rather every season. In the English Premier League, the bottom three clubs in the top division are dropped to a lower division, whereas the top three clubs in a lower division are promoted. You are never handed a free ticket.
So, let’s put the Cubs to the test. There are no more free rides. For them, this October had better be Cubbie blue.
If I were commissioner, I’d tell the Cubs that baseball doesn’t want a free loader anymore. If it’s same old same old, then I’m axing these bears once and for all.
After 100 years, we can honestly say we’ve given them as much a chance as we could. “Baseball has to move on,” I’d say. “And the Cubs do too.”
Luckily for those lovable Cubbies and their resilient legion of fans, I’m not commissioner - not yet anyway.
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