As I write this, the Cubs are getting ready for game six of the World Series. It’s win or go home for the Cubs, who are undoubtedly hoping to force a game seven on Wednesday. They are undoubtedly hoping to win game seven as well.
For those that aren’t aware, the Cubs were last in the World Series in 1945. My grandfather, a die hard Cubs fan since childhood, recalled catching pieces of that series on WGN’s AM station while he was on a troop ship coming back from World War Two. That World Series was still segregated – Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. The last time the Cubs actually won the World Series was in 1908. It’s been a long time.
The Cubs have been great fun to watch for the last two years. They’re a young team that clearly has a lot of fun, and have done well while having fun.
You would expect Cub’s fans to want a game seven, and hopefully a World Series win, more than the team itself. And most do. As I said above, it’s been a long time.
However, it turns out that quite a few Cubs fans actually wish (secretly I assume) that the Cubs don’t win on Wednesday (if they win tonight, that is). Why? It’s been a long time. So long, that they’re not sure what it will do to the team, the fans, the entire culture. It seems a form of Stockholm syndrome. Cub’s fans have lived losing. Most of them, for their entire life. Only a few are still around that remember that 1945 World Series (which they lost, I remind you). They have come to identify with their captors. And while they all want their freedom again, to bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy, some are not quite ready to leave the friendly confines of losing.
Losing has been an integral part of the Cubs’ brand. Growing up, if the Cubs won their first game, my friends would joke that it was the only time that season that they would have a winning record. If they lost the first and won the second, the joke was that it was the only time they’d be at .500. The lovable losers. The common refrain has always been “Next Year.” The curse has always been in the open. It’s something they’ve adopted as their own.
That’s my good friend Mario’s Malört jersey that he got Jeppson’s approval to use for his soccer team. He’s a die hard Cubs fan, a Malört enthusiast, and all around awesome guy.
A brand and trademark are source identifiers. They are relied upon for a consistent experience and outcome. That quality and experience need not be high quality or good experience. For Cubs fans, the years have provided some variance in outcome, as all franchises do. The Cubs have done better some years than others, but the curse was always there to set things right. The experience for Cubs fans has been consistent. Next year. But you have your friends beside you. And the pride of saying you’re in the seats come foul weather, or eventually, fair.