I'm happy for the Chicago Cubs. Winning the World Series is an incredible feat.
I'm less happy for Cubs fans.
I know this is easy to say (and perhaps ridiculous) coming from a fan of the New York Yankees, but with the winning of the World Series, the Cubs fans have lost their identity.
Prior to their World Series victory, the Cubs were a much admired, historically snake-bitten franchise that couldn't win a championship. They were cursed. Their curse had a name and a backstory. Despite the 108 years of ineptitude, Cubs fans stuck by their team and year after year rooted for the seemingly impossible dream. Cubs fans were admired. Revered. Respected.
But now their team has won. The curse is broken. Their identity as the most diehard, most faithful, and most downtrodden fans in America is gone. They are now fans of just another team who has won the World Series, and they did it with one of the highest team salaries in baseball.
Higher than the Yankees, in fact.
They are now just another big budget team who wins championships.
I know. I'm a Yankees fan. I have not waited 108 years for my team to win a championship. I have no right to argue that the Cubs should continue to lose for generations for the sake of identity. For me, it's been seven years and counting between championships, though to a Yankees fan, it's starting to feel like 108.
But that's my identity. I'm a fan of a team who pays enormous sums of money in the biggest and brightest city in America in order to win championships at all costs. We are the evil empire, and we have embraced that identity. We're supposed to outspend your team. We're supposed to be loud and obnoxious. You're supposed to hate the Yankees and despise their fans.
We get it. And we love it.
But the Cubs?
They aren't supposed to spend more money than the New York Yankees in order to win a championship. In fact, they beat a team in the bottom third of payroll in the league in order to win their title. They spent more than twice as much on their 25-man roster this year than the Indians.
The Cubs have become this year's version of the New York Yankees.
And while Cubs fans are rightfully celebrating today, I wonder how they will feel in a couple years. I have a handful of friends who are Red Sox diehards who have admitted to me that they loved their team more before they won the World Series. After three big budget World Series victories in ten years and the second highest payroll in baseball this year, they acknowledge that their identity and brand is gone. Their diehard status is no longer diehard. They are now the fans of a team that wins World Series championships every now and then.
They have become average. Just a bunch of ordinary fans of a successful baseball team. They might as well cheer for the Marlins. Or the Blue Jays. Or the Chicago White Sox, who won the championship ten years ago.
Just like that other Chicago team that wins championships.
Sometimes it's more meaningful and memorable to be the underdog. Sometimes it's better to be perpetually disappointed and relentlessly faithful in the face of adversity than to be occasionally euphoric, especially when everyone else around you is occasionally euphoric.
I know. This sounds terrible coming from a Yankees fan, but we're supposed to be terrible.
I wish you the best, Cubs fans. I'm happy for you today, but I suspect that I won't be thinking about you and rooting for you very much in the future.
You're just not that special anymore.