Saturday, September 27, 2003

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! (Finally.)

The White Sox may have tanked down the stretch, but the Windy City is celebrating tonight after the Cubs swept a doubleheader against Pittsburgh and the Brewers downed the Astros, giving Dusty Baker's crew the National League Central crown.

Phil Sheridan, anticipating Chicago's ascending to the post-season, weighed in with a nice piece in this morning's Inquirer that encourages Phillies fans to hope for a Red Sox/Cubs World Series. Only Philadelphians, he notes, can truly appreciate the kind of suffering endured by Boston and Chicago baseball fans. The difference is that while those folks have embraced their teams' failures as a "badge of honor," Sheridan says, "Phillies fans are every bit as loyal, but they get zero satisfaction from the constant disappointment. . . . The fans here see nothing lovable about the way the Phillies lose. It isn't charming or romantic. It's grueling."

This is completely accurate. Viewed this way, the national media's constant harping on Philadelphians' tough standards reveals a terrible laziness in thinking. We should be applauded, not denigrated, for demanding better of our teams. The Red Sox and the Cubs may be lovable losers, but they're still losers. Boston and Chicago deserve better, but they're too wussy to realize it. We in Philadelphia know we deserve better. That's why we boo when Pat Burrell fans, again, on a pitch about six feet outside, or when the Eagles, in their new, publicly financed stadium, look as adept as a peewee football team tripping through its first scrimmage.

For good measure, Sheridan takes a completely warranted poke at Diamondbacks and Marlins fans, who erroneously considered themselves sports victims because their newly minted teams didn't win right away. Sheridan, who was in Miami to cover the Phils/Marlins series, writes:

One of the big stories in South Florida this week was that, ahem, fans actually showed up for the games the Marlins won to eliminate the Phillies. More than 25,000 on Tuesday. More than 30,000 by Thursday. Yippee.

They were doing the wave by the fourth inning. They roared at every fly ball as if it were bound for the upper deck. They were almost certainly nice people, but come on. This franchise won the World Series in just its fifth season. That was 1997, just six years ago. And the fans get credit for showing up like bunch of front-runners in the last week of the regular season? Please.

Jack McKeon is a pretty funky old guy, and the Marlins are fun to watch. You can root for them in this postseason if you want.

But if you're rooting for fellow fans, then here's to the Cubs and the Red Sox reaching the World Series. Here's to somebody who deserves it and understands it looking up toward the heavens and shouting, "Finally!"


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