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Friday

22

July 2011

47

COMMENTS

Things Could Be Worse, You Could Be a Phillies Fan

Written by , Posted in General

These are not exactly salad days for Cubs fans. Full disclosure here: I actually don’t know what salad days are, but I’m pretty sure they don’t involve being a loyal follower of a terrible team (potentially historically terrible) with an overmatched manager that appears to be edging nearer to a complete meltdown as he oversees a roster full of  “untouchables” and “untradeables”.  There is no way to put a positive spin on what Cubs fans have watched this year…but it could be worse.

Imagine for a moment what it must be like to publicly admit to being a fan of the losingest team in the history of professional sports. Consider the pain of supporting the only franchise in any sport that has amassed 10,000 losses, a franchise that has treated its fans to just 13 postseason appearances and 7 pennants in it’s 125+ year history (as compared to 16 and 10 for the Cubs). Think what it must be like to know that your favorite team would have to go undefeated for the next six and a half seasons just to get back to a .500 record all-time. Yes, just think how painful it must be to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan.

Ok, saying such a thing today as the Phillies sit atop the National League East yet again and appear to be cruising towards their fifth consecutive post-season appearance may seem a bit absurd, and with good reason…it is. No, sorrow for a Phillies fan was not a common sentiment this week as the visitors from the East came into Wrigley and dropped the Cubs’ to 21-games under .500. It was tough to watch the two teams and see any parallels between the organizations at all.

It’s easy to forget that the Phillies haven’t been such a juggernaut for long, in fact, it wasn’t so long ago that they were just like us.  Five years ago, I moved from the Midwest to my current home in Philadelphia and upon my arrival discovered an unexpected kinship with Phillies supporters. Here was a group that, like that of the Cubs, considered themselves to be the heir to the thrown of “most tortured fan base” following the World Series titles that had recently been won by the Sox (both Red and White). I would have spirited discussions with my new friends about which of us had put up with more disappointment and would argue about which of our teams would finally break through with a title first.

It is amazing to see how quickly fortunes and perceptions can change as we all now know who ended up being on the right side of that argument and there is certainly no debate any longer about which franchise is the most tortured.  While the Cubs enjoyed a modicum of success in 2007 and 2008, we find ourselves right back where we so often do – waiting for our day in the sun, all the while assuming that sun will burn out before we ever get there and knowing full well that we’ll be more than happy with a brief break in the clouds. Phillies fans, on the other hand, will never be able to find enjoyment in mediocrity again. Now that they’ve tasted paradise, it is going to be extremely difficult for them when their run finally ends. Take a good hard look and realize how close the Cubs were to becoming what the Phillies are today …a traditionally bad team that will never again be able to handle failure. So rejoice Cubs fans and take solace in the fact that no matter how bad things get, we very well may never have to suffer the same fate as those poor, poor fans from Philadelphia.

  • I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We have a single A club in the Padres system, The Tincaps. I’ve been to three games this season.

    Recently, the local field hosted a AAA game featuring the Padres AAA team playing someone, I don’t know who. My wife knows someone who goes to lots of Tincaps games and went to one of the AAA games. He commented to her that one could really see the difference in the quality of play.

    I had already noticed that I was NOT seeing any difference between the single A Tincaps and the MLB Cubs.

    Geez, I cannot wait for the September call ups.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    While it might not take the edge off my own Cubs-fan misery, it is nice to know we have some company. Nice job, Dustin.

  • lizzie

    Great stuff Dustin! I grew up in Wilkes-Barre (three hours up the turnpike) during the Phillies woe years but because we were closer to NY it seemed most fans didn’t really care for them. Maybe it was the losses but I don’t think so because there was an equally hapless concern in the Mets to satisfy anyone’s need for martyrdom, and folks did tend to choose them over the Yankees. The consensus at the time was that the Phillies played dirty and deserved whatever they got. I’m sure it was not fact-based but that was the general feeling. At least among the worldly teens of Wilkes-Barre, PA!

  • Buddy

    In addition to the recent success, the Phillies won it all in 1980 and made the World Series in 1983 and 1993. Yes, it’s still more painful to be a Cubs fan.

  • Doug S.

    So what’s worse……10,000 or 103 years?
    I’ll take what I’ve seen of the Phillies successes over what I’ve experienced in Cubs failures any day.

  • Dustin Godsey

    @Buddy and @Doug – I definitely agree with you both…I’d trade the Phillies situation for ours in the blink of an eye – right now. Things can change real quickly though, and while all seems lost right now for the Cubs, you just never know how fortunes can change in a couple years.

  • Norm

    I’m 34 years old, so 10,000 losses and 103 years don’t mean anything to me. Quick math, it appears the Cubs have a.486 winning percentage since 1983; which I’ll assume is when I started being a fan (I remember Bill Buckner for some reason). I’m shocked it’s that high to be honest.

  • Yavelberg

    My father grew up in Philadelphia and is a Phillies fan (I think I’ve mentioned that before). He used to tell my brothers and me stories about the 1980 Phillies team, especially Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Tug McGraw, Richie Ashburn, etc. I’ll agree that perhaps there used to be a “misery loves company” sort of feel between Cubs and Phillies fans, but 10,000 losses really just means that the team has been around forever. According to baseball-reference.com, the Cubs’ overall record from 1876 to today is 10279-9748. We’re only 250 losses away from 10,000 ourselves, which means we’ll probably hit it in two years, the way things are looking right now.

    Buddy’s point is an important one. The Phils won it all in 1980, made it to the series in ’83 and ’93, won it all again in 2008 and made it to the series again in 2009, not to mention looking like the NL favorites this year. I guarantee that no Phillies fan today cares about the fact that when the team won in 1980, it was only the third World Series in almost 100 years that the team had made. In 1980, it was a big deal. Today, not so much.

    The only team that the Cubs really had a connection with is the Red Sox. Their team was the only other one that appeared to be cursed, finding new and more heart-wrenching ways to lose before finally having the stars align in 2004. But because of their successes over the last seven years, now it’s just us.

  • Yavelberg

    On a completely unrelated note, apparently the team is willing to eat some of Soriano’s salary to get rid of him and he’s said that he’s willing to waive the no-trade clause: http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/6791533/chicago-cubs-willing-absorb-much-alfonso-soriano-contract

  • Buddy

    There’s about $60 million left on Soriano’s contract, so the Cubs would have to eat a ton of it to make a deal. Seems unlikely to me.

  • Dustin Godsey

    @yavelberg – Yes, it does mean that they’ve been around forever…however the Cubs have been around six years longer and it will not hit 10k until at least 6 years after the Phils did. You’re correct about Phillies fans today not caring that it took them almost 100 years to win their first championship, but I can tell you that in 2006 when I moved here, that sort of thing was definitely on their mind. Philly fans have their beliefs about curses too.

    What made me think about this was actually Buddy’s post from the other day when he described the casual fan he was talking to that mentioned that it must be nice to be a Phillies fan and be able to follow a winner every year. The Phillies are even starting to be talked about in the same breath as the Yankees and Red Sox, as a team that has the benefit of being able to go out an “buy” championship contending teams.

    However, I distinctly remember the beginning of 2007 when Phillies fans were the ones complaining to me that the Cubs were trying to purchase a title (talk about perceptions changing quickly, people at that time seemed to think Soriano could deliver us to the promised land)…look at where the two franchises are now.

    @Norm – that’s an ugly number…however, here’s a different perspective. At our age (I’m just a couple years younger), we’ve seen the Cubs in the post season 6 times. My father was 32 before he saw his first Cubs playoff appearance.

  • lizzie

    Joe you should offer Aaron (Yavelberg) Daver’s old “In the News” column. He’s been giving us some good articles lately! Aaron the article gave me a touch of hope until I saw that it said someone is interested in Grabow. Then I knew it had to be lies, LOL.

  • Lizzie

    Hm. My comment required moderation. And I didn’t even swear!!!

  • Buddy

    Good point Dustin. It’s always interesting how quickly a team’s fortune turns. It wasn’t so long ago that the Astros were considered one of the game’s best franchises and the Rangers were considered a joke.

  • Also, the Phillies were in the LCS each season from 1976 -1978, and finished 2nd in 1975…went to the WS twice in the 80’s…once in the 90’s….and are in contention ezach year of the last decade.

    They are nothing like the Cubs. Nothing.

  • Norm

    The Twins were one of the teams people wanted to contract just a little while ago…

  • Doc Raker

    Thanks for the history lesson, I will take the Phillies record over the Cubs record in the past 40 years, the memories of Tinker to Evers to Chance have faded a bit for me.

  • Buddy

    It’s pretty amusing, but Bud Selig’s position in recent years is that the 2001 contraction plan was a “myth.”

  • @lizzie…I bet “someone is interested in Grabow” triggered the spam moderation. No human would write that.

  • Doc Raker

    For me a losing season like this is the norm, it isn’t real misery, the winning season is the unexpected joy, like when a girl gives Buddy the time of day. There is enough real misery in real life in the real world, baseball and the Cubs are just a contrived distraction of a hobby.

  • Doc Raker

    I think the FBI is interested in Grabow.

  • Yavelberg

    Keep in mind, also, that the article just says teams have shown interest in Grabow; it doesn’t specify what type of interest. Maybe other teams are in the market for a new scapegoat. Or a pool cleaner. Or they’re looking for a good time (“Who wants a mustache ride??”).

    Incidentally, John Grabow is owned in 0.0% of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues.

  • Joe

    @Lizzie – That may not be a bad idea.

  • Doug S.

    We had this strange kinship and futility relationship thing going on with Red Sox fans. Two WS later, it’s long gone. Now I find most of them and their incessant Yankee hatred quite annoying.

  • Jedi

    I feel more of a kinship to Indians fans at this point…and even that is stretching it.

  • Yavelberg

    @Doug – Red Sox fans are interesting. Yes, this whole Red Sox Nation thing has been taken way too far and is more than a bit played-out by now, especially since they’re clearly no longer underdogs (to the Yankees or anyone else). But I visited Boston on July 4th weekend and it was just amazing to me how central a role the team plays in the city. I live in New York and I never see as many Yankees/Mets gear (individually or combined) on any given day as I saw Sox stuff that weekend. The team *is* the city. Maybe it’s something about cities with more than one team that the loyalty gets diluted a bit, but there’s just nothing like the relationship between the Sox and the Boston citizens.

    Bill Simmons (for anyone who doesn’t know) writes a weekly column on ESPN.com and is a die-hard Boston fan. Actually, technically his articles are now on his new site, Grantland.com, but he still works for ESPN. In any event, he collected a number of his columns from the years leading up to the Sox 2004 World Series win and compiled them into a book chronicling the journey from a fan’s point of view (“Now I Can Die in Peace” – http://www.amazon.com/Now-Can-Die-Peace-Salvation/dp/1933060727). He’s got a really unique style of writing (that actually annoys more than a few people), but I thought it was a great description of Boston’s inferiority complex and how they finally managed to overcome it.

  • Yavelberg

    @Jedi – there’s something really weird about feeling connected with Cleveland (who, by the way, is apparently taking a look at Fukudome to replace Shin-Soo Choo – http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/5596/fukudome-could-be-fit-with-indians).

    @Joe, Lizzie – Didn’t mean to prove your point a little more there.

  • chris in Illinois

    I’d be more interested in losing Soriano if there were a viable replacement…I’d eat all of the remaining $$$ id he was blocking a potential MLB left-fielder.

  • I agree…the FBI would like to question John Grabow for impersonating a relief pitcher the last 2 seasons, and for stealing money from the Cubs…..

  • PackerCubBull

    Doug – I feel the same way about the BoSox. Now, I hate them. Because they complain about the Yankees spending when they spend just as much and they go after the same players the Yankees do. The Red Sox go after Sabathia and Texieria, only to lose to the Yankees, what does John Henry do? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Baseball needs a salary cap! But this last winter, they threw 300M at Crawford and Gonzalez. I thought baseball needed a salary cap, John?

  • They were keyed off by his tax return. His earnings were $4.8M, but he claimed a loss citing “pitching expenses.” Towel workouts were a big chunk…goatee maintenance was something like $3.7M.

  • Wait a minute…..(pulling off Grabow’s mask) AHA!!! Just as I thought….it’s Will Ohman!!

  • Eddie Von White

    Amen to Doc’s quote about the Cubs’ losing season being the norm and following the Cubs is a contrived distraction of a hobby.

    I was a little boy when the ’69 Cubs blew it. I cried myself to sleep every night in September that year. I didn’t know better. Tom Seaver appeared in my nightmares. I was a young man when the ’84 and ’89 Cubs blew it. I was bothered but hardened by then. I didn’t care in the 90’s. In 2003 I came home from a late meeting at work to find my wife, 12 year old daughter and 8 year old son crying on the couch after game 6. My children had never know such heartbreak. It was like their puppy died or something. My wife said to me, “What have you done to this family? You made us Cub fans.” Oops. My bad. My kids are Cub fanatics today. It’s like an inherited disease.

    The Cubs’ day is coming. There is no such thing as a curse. They just are losers, but that will turn around – you will see and all this cyinism will just be yesterday heart break.

    Go Cubs!

  • PackerCubBull

    Seasons like this, I find inner strength here:
    http://gapersblog.typepad.com/gapers_blog/files/vedder_auditorium_2008.mp3
    We will win a WS some day

  • Yavelberg

    @Eddie – Simmons talks about exactly that difficulty of passing on fandom of a losing team to his children in the Red Sox book. I’ve never been the type to cry at games, even the really important ones, but I still get angry when I start to see replays of the Bartman game. I don’t blame Bartman, but I do get angry. My dad, though, had trouble talking to people for a few days after the Eagles lost the Super Bowl. Last year when the Phils lost to San Fran in the LCS, he was a little better because they had just won in 2008, but he was still pretty broken up.

  • Yavelberg

    Also, I was only a year old in 1984; that’s why I started my anger history with 2003.

  • PackerCubBull

    What about 89 or 98?

  • Seymour Butts

    Grabow may not be owned in fantasy baseball, but he is very much owned in MLB.

  • Yavelberg

    @PCB – To be honest, I didn’t really start following baseball closely enough to really care until I was in college. I was six in ’89; at that age, I was still living in Chicago and knew I was a Cubs fan, but that just meant I liked the team and Andre Dawson was my favorite player (he hit a home run at each of the three games I went to at Wrigley). In ’98, my family had moved to New York, and I remember that they played the one-game playoff with San Fran at the end of the season, but I didn’t remember much about the playoffs (I had to look it up just now to see what happened afterwards).

    A lot of the problem for me is that we moved to New York when I was 11 and I didn’t have access to the games anymore. All I had was the little two-paragraph summaries in the New York newspaper. It wasn’t until I was in college (freshman in fall of 2001) that I actually started reading the Chicago Tribune sports section online that I really got back to following the team as much as I could. So, by the time 2003 came around, I was all set for heartbreak.

    @Eddie – I forgot to mention before, but your comment about Tom Seaver nightmares reminded me. There’s a great story about (Cubs fan) Bryant Gumbel sitting in a broadcast booth with Tom Seaver years afterwards and basically giving him the evil eye throughout their whole broadcast. Seaver eventually confronts him and asks, “Look, have I done something to offend you?” And Gumbel looks at him, shakes his head, and says, “I’m sorry, Tom, you just wouldn’t understand.”

  • Eddie Von White

    @Yavelberg – I don’t know what happened but my kids are just ape over the Cubs. They know every stat and detail – but not just the Cubs all of MLB. I didn’t mean to pass on my fandom (to use your word) it just happened.

    My uncles were crazy, cyncial and loyal Cub fans (bordered on angry). You would not believe the conversations I quietly sat in on as a youngster. Holy Cow! In fact, I suspect Doc Raker is my uncle

    When Tom Seaver went to the White Sox at the end of his career, in a weird sort of way I was glad. Now I could double up my hatred.

    But I’m ok now (by own diagnosis).

  • Doug S.

    Quoting Eddie “What have you done to this family? You made us Cub fans.”

    Sorry man, but that made me laugh. Men are capable of many terrible things. Who would have thought making the family Cubs fans would be one of them?

  • Eddie Von White

    @ Doug S – Now I’m laughing. But as bad as being a Cub fan is,it won’t always be like that. Their day is coming I will be one fan who never gave up hope.

  • Yavelberg

    @Eddie – I think it’s part of my personality not to focus too much on stats. I enjoy stats to a certain extent (the stats chapter in Tim Kurkjian’s book “Is This a Great Game or What?” is fantastic) but a lot of the time they get in the way of my enjoyment of the game. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t end up posting a lot about stats – I always have to look them up. I’m more of a human interest guy than a numbers guy.

    Also, I tended to enjoy cartoons a little more than watching games on TV when I was younger. I would actually get annoyed when the Cubs were on in the afternoon because it meant I couldn’t watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 🙂

  • Yavelberg

    Bob Brenly just called Samardzija and Russell a two-headed MONSTER… ha!

    • I heard that too and it scared me a little.

  • Buddy

    This is a family website, so I won’t type what I just called Brenly.

  • PackerCubBull

    He called them a 2-headed monster of suckiness, right?