By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Once a day almost every day since Nov. 2, I’ve tweeted some version of the following: “The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.”
I do this for a few reasons. It’s a mix of gloating and tongue-in-cheek annoying, which all formerly suffering Cubs have earned the right to be for a few months, haters be damned. The (sticks) Cubs (out) won (tongue) the World Series.
Also, it’s a mere reminder, a pinch against the creeping feeling that after a lifetime of “believing” that this is really just a dream. Like, they actually did it? The Cubs … won the World Series? The Cubs won the World Series.
Mostly, though, the repetitive tweet has an unfortunate motivation. The Cubs winning a world championship for the first time in any of our lifetimes and ending sports’ cruelest drought is undoubtedly the biggest sports story of the year. Apologies to Cleveland and Cavaliers fans, but you playing second fiddle in all the year-end retrospectives is just so fittingly Cleveland. Though much of what follows here could just as easily apply to any Cleveland folk who need to remind themselves daily that the Cavaliers won the NBA championship to temporarily forget something more important.
2016 as a whole sucked the big one. It featured celebrity death and more death and then a new death every day when you sort of started wrapping up the last round of mourning we do for famous people we don’t actually know. It’s totally a case of recency bias, as I’ve been told lots of celebrities died in previous years. It’s selfish, but it’s human.
And the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
All the death isn’t what conjures up that pleasant reminder, though. The flawed feeling that this is an extra-mortal year is likely also a symptom of the slog toward a different, grander shuffle directly into the sun that was the 2016 presidential election and all the toxic residue left on all sides of its wake, and collectively we feel like anything and everything negative that happens in the world is some great cosmic kick while we’re down after suffering through a severe devolution of our country.
Cubs fans had a week of euphoria. One stinking week. Then something that seemed only possible in dystopian fiction — shout-out to those novels for now being way more valid in my high school classroom, I guess — actually happened at the voting booth. The tone of “The Cubs won the World Series” changed immediately for me. It went from giggly boast to a salve for an awful burn. It’s now part Kevin Bacon amid the panicked crowd in Animal House, part child-like verbal safety blanket against the Boogeyman, part Jack Torrance in The Shining before the homicidal explosion. It’s that Cleveland irony, only more morbid. Glass half-empty as a Cubs fan’s scars have made him or her, leave it to the damn Cubs to win footnote status in a year that scholars decades from now may note as the flashpoint of a dark era in American history. Assuming scholars and critical thinkers still exist then. The Cubs may have a dozen World Series titles by then, though. They’re at least favored to repeat as champs in 2017, which feels so awkward to type.
Because the Cubs won the World Series.
Which is also why that reminder of their win has become tinged with self-deprecation. I’m mocking myself and any other fan who puts a sports championship above real world importance or even uses it as an opiate to make the literal game show host and angry Twitter man go away for a while. I’ve actually been posed the question of whether I would trade this Cubs win for a different outcome a week later. It’s a tragic, O. Henry-on-meth question.
“The Cubs won the World Series,” I mumble while my arms are wrapped around my drawn-in legs as a I rock back and forth slowly after realizing the man with the haircut and the Twitter typos will preside over the Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn.
America is in a bad place right now while the only noise at Wrigley Field is the din of construction, which has already had at least one accident. Damn you, 2016.
Our country has literal Nazis back and comfortable speaking in public about crackpot values of white supremacy, and our media is fascinated by them more than condemning. New York Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock’s home was broken into earlier this month, and he “found ‘KKK,’ three swastikas and other racist language scrawled onto the walls of home. The largest word, ‘Trump,’ was also written in marker on the wall leading up his staircase.” But the Cubs won the World Series.
The U.S. women’s gymnastics team dominated but still dealt with deeply American respectability politics. Acts of hate against minorities have spiked since November that the country’s paper of record has started a new section called “This Week in Hate.” Muhammad Ali, champion of humanity, died. Athletes are growing more political and protesting violence committed by the state. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall shared a particularly disturbing piece of racist hate mail he received earlier this month. But the Cubs won the World Series.
Truly awful, ignorant people have been emboldened to inflict physical and psychological violence on marginalized people. Many more people who otherwise shouldn’t will die on American soil in the next four years — sickly, poorly and violently. Bartolo Colon hit a home run. A man who takes his beefs to Twitter has the nuclear launch codes. Jake Arrieta is tweeting nationalism.
And the Cubs are on the moon.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.