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.