Written by Tim Reusche | @TimReusche
Member of Ball State Sports Link
The Chicago Cubs are winning baseball games and it hurts. It hurts really really really bad. The fact that this franchise that is known for historically losing and is doing the opposite now is impressive in itself. In fact, you cannot help but root for the Loveable Losers. The part that causes pain is the fact that Theo Epstein, the mastermind behind the construction of this whole team, was right in the end. When he left the Red Sox several years after the team’s first championship in 86 years and then their second three years later, I was intrigued. I, like with many Cubs fans liked the optimism. Did I think a World Series? Well after being raised in a Cubs family, heck no. Nothing is guaranteed with the Cubs.
His first managerial hire as the President of Baseball Operations, was Dale Sveum. Sveum was the Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach who at the time were a top offense in the league. Sveum didn’t work out to say the least. If I told you I remembered his next hire (Rick Renteria was his name) I would be lying to you. I jumped ship. I had enough of the losing. This is the part that really hits home. The part that will get me shunned from Chicago forever. I became a Giants fan.
The part of growing up in a household where I had the freedom to have my own thoughts and beliefs was nice but looking back was tough. No one questioned what I did. Well actually my dad did and probably my grandpa. They didn’t sit down with me and talk to me about what I was doing though. I was crazy to say the least. My mom on the other hand, was supportive in everything I did.
The first notable “Giants” game I remember is back in 2010, yes the year they oh so happened to win their first World Series in 56 years. I was at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the home of the Brewers. I had on my proud 2009 Tim Lincecum jersey with an All Star Patch from St. Louis. I was sitting in the second row of the left field bleachers. All the hype in the game was around Buster Posey and this offense that could not hit.
The Giants that game ended up winning the game by 13 runs but the moment that resided with me was Buster Posey’s first career grand slam. If I could find video evidence online I would but when you see him crush the ball you see an impressive barehanded catch in the left field bleachers by a fan. One row behind him you see a kid in a Tim Lincecum jersey with a 2009 All Star Game Patch, in pure awe.
I was one row away from catching Buster Posey’s first career grand slam. The moments after that were surreal. Not only did security approach the young man for the ball but what was being offered and talked about in exchange for the ball, was insane. I could only fathom to understand what I could’ve possibly asked for at the time. Meanwhile, the Cubs were on one of their biggest downward spirals following their brief success under Lou Piniella, now with Dale Sveum at the helm.
I’ve always liked multiple teams and that’s what has hurt me. Eventually I started understanding that I cannot change back and forth. After having an intervention if you will with my four other roommates this semester while at college, I REALLY can’t keep switching. To say I started liking the Giants in 2010 is a lie though.
The first memory I really have cheering for them, at least as a casual, indifferent fan towards them was back in 2007, when Barry Bonds set the career home run record against the Nationals. This was amidst various historical events that were being made throughout all of sports. We can’t forget a few months earlier when the New York Football Giants beat the then perfect New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Or, a year earlier when the Miami Heat in the NBA got their first championship ever. I loved all the historical events going on. The first time I remember watching a team play the Giants in person, was at Wrigley Field.
Before tickets were sky-high in pricing, I was able to go to a Cubs game for a reasonable price. This happened to be back in 2007, just days before Barry Bonds got his home run record. I was sitting way back in the bleachers with my grandpa, this also was the first game I went to with just me and him at the time. This was when the Cubs were on the rise again. In the end, the Cubs lost and Barry Bonds ended up hitting two home runs in the game. I was intrigued with what Bonds was doing but also knew he was a cheater.
Not to jump around too much but for the brief period I did not follow baseball, which was in 2005 and 2006 when Derek Lee, the first Cubs player I had a strong liking to, had his All Star type season. He put up ridiculous numbers in which people thought he was on performance-enhancing drugs, I was on a little league team in which my coach asked me who my favorite player was. I did not follow any team the year before, I had no idea what was going on in the MLB. So I responded with the only player I knew of that was not mainstream around the city of Chicago: Barry Bonds. Looking back would I take that back? Probably not. To say I planted the seed in becoming a San Francisco Giants fan is a lie because again, I am crazy and had no idea what was going on in baseball back in 2006.
So let’s flash forward to 2011, to when Theo Epstein officially became the President of Baseball Operations. The hire and lack of success of Theo early on did not stray me away from the Cubs, the part that did was Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Cubs. He decided to renovate Wrigley Field rather than tear it down and build a new stadium. They couldn’t necessarily build it where Wrigley is now but the plans of one in Rosemont, where hotels are and an overall safer neighborhood rather than in Wrigleyville, was ideal for me. My parents were set on this too.
When I heard that Mr. Ricketts and the city of Chicago planned to just renovate Wrigley Field, I could not take it anymore. The Cubs wanted to preserve the history that is Wrigley Field and to quote an anonymous source close to me on this, “it’s a dump.” To say that it is not is a lie. I have not been there this year since the renovations so I’m not sure if it still is today. If it is nicer am I jumping ship? No.
The most pivotal years of your life I believe are high school and college. That is when you truly become an adult. To say I was involved in high school, is what I believe is a lie. Comparing my life now, in my junior year of college, to my freshman year of high school, I did practically nothing. I did not have much to fall back on, much to escape the life that was high school. Trying to get away from all that drama and what not can be tough. I was cut from basketball and baseball my freshman year. I was able to play volleyball but the following year was cut from that.
For those of you that have experienced high school, for maybe not the better, you know the hell it could be. Like with a fair amount of kids, I used sports to “escape reality.” In all the bad in this world why not find something good? When the Giants made the post season in 2010, in my sophomore year of high school, I expected the worst. Being a Cubs fan, staying up late in 2007 and 2008 to watch those late night west coast playoff games against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, I didn’t assume anything. The remarkable run put together by their then ace, Tim Lincecum was astonishing along with the shutdown closer that was Brian Wilson, the man who started the fear the beard campaign. The biggest hero had to be Cody Ross though, He was someone the Giants claimed off waivers to replace José Guillén, the right fielder at the time who was injured.
He hit well over .300 in each game of the postseason and was big in contributing for the Giants. When Brian Wilson got that final strikeout in the World Series, I was elated. Finally, one of my teams won a World Championship. I am a fan of Peyton Manning but he played the Bears in the Super Bowl, a game in which I am still torn apart on. Nonetheless, the feeling I felt could not be repeated, having my first team win a world championship in front of me on television.
I was loving the Giants, they were my team. I had enough of the Cubs. The following years were nothing but enjoyable. My mom and dad have been supportive of it too. We planned a vacation several years back to St. Louis just to go to see the Giants play the Cardinals. I was wearing my Lincecum jersey and took some heat for it but ended up finding a Giants fan to talk to there. The San Francisco Giants fan base is what also helps contribute to my love for them.
Then, a few weeks later on a school night, we went to Wrigley Field to see San Francisco play Chicago. This wasn’t any normal night: Tim Lincecum was pitching. My dad harassed me about not wearing my Giants jersey. I was too scared at the time and yes I was in high school. The Cubs ended up winning that game in the bottom of the ninth but we unfortunately had the leave the game after the eighth inning. All in all, it was a blast seeing the Giants play wherever I went.
Now, the Giants have missed the postseason, their third time in the past six years. They also though, have had three World Series Rings in the past six years. It’s kind of an all or nothing mantra with this 21st Century Giants team. I wasn’t alive to embrace Willie Mays or Will Clark (Nicknamed Will the Thrill) or Gaylord Perry. I was just old enough to remember watching Barry Bonds break the Career Home Run Record. I don’t know the struggle of waiting 56 years for a World Series Win. I thought 16 years without a major sports championship was hard in my life. Now, the other kids my age, saying how they waited 20, 21, 22, etc. years for a Cubs World Series win is something I can’t understand.
There are a few Cubs fans who have never experienced a World Championship for any of their teams. Finding someone who is just a Cubs fan and not a fan of the Bears, Blackhawks, or Bulls, is a rarity in Chicago. But props to YOU, the one of few whom are solely Cubs fans. This is YOUR time. I took a shortcut, jumping ship, I really did. To say my life is better now than it was in high school is an understatement. To say that the Giants saved my life is an overstatement, but to say they provided a positive outlet for me in high school is one hundred percent true. I like with many other young adults, am figuring how the puzzle that we call life is solved. I was not and will not be a part of the Blackhawks bandwagon. I can’t just start liking a team in a sport I don’t understand because they win.
However, as I mentioned earlier, this hurts. I just couldn’t stay with the Cubs, I haven’t been in it with this particular regime since day one. I had to experience winning a championship before I graduated high school. The Packers did it, the Blackhawks did, the Colts, and the White Sox did. These are all common teams that Chicago fans like (yes the few Packers fans reading this know what I’m saying).
Living in Indiana for the past 3 years now has opened my eyes to the Indiana Cubs fans. Those Indiana Cubs fans though, like the Colts, for the most part. I could do a whole research study on this to backup my theory in that everyone has had a winning team in their young life, but at the end of the day everyone likes a winner. Everyone needs a winner in his or her life. If you’re not winning then what are you doing? To quote one of Will Ferrell’s best movies, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
Call me a bandwagon fan, go ahead, the fan police won’t arrest you and I’ve learned to care less. As I watched the Cubs playoff game a few nights ago and called out various people for being a bandwagon fan, one of my roommates told me something that resided for the rest of the night, “it takes one to know one.”
So as October goes on and the Cubs (hopefully) keep winning, I’m watching. I am also cheering. However, since I jumped ship and will stay committed for the rest of my life (barring any event that I know could change my fan hood), I will be a Giants fan first. Maybe the next time the Giants come to Wrigley Field, I will proudly wear my Tim Lincecum jersey.