Waking up to the new world of a Cubs Pennant
The Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers and reserved their place at the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. But before the World Series battle with the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs pennant victory inspired a generation of people nurtured in the aura of the “underdog” culture.
Oct. 27, 2016 DVN, SWNH, Regional News, Reporter Newspapers
By Ray Hanania
Still, maybe my love was with the Cubs’ name. But I admired its players and fell in love with one of the greatest baseball parks in America, Wrigley Field.
Cheering for the Cubs to win the Pennant has always been fun, in a large part because they have always fallen short — it’s been 108 years since their last World Series victory (1908) and 71 years since winning their last Pennant (1945).
The Chicago Cubs were the “underdogs” of baseball, and maybe that
helped Cubs fans survive the losses and a mythical curse many claimed as the excuse.
The “underdog” is a powerful symbol of determination, persistence, and stubbornness. I’m definitely an “underdog” fan, especially in politics. But my love came from the popular “Underdog” animated TV series from the 1960s.
“There’s no need to fear. Underdog is here,” the proud and powerful yet “humble and lovable” Shoeshine Boy cartoon doggie would declare as he quickly turned into a superhero who saved people.
The Underdog saving people. It’s a heartwarming theme that kept Cubs fan’s hearts warm for more than 108 years in this country.
The Chicago Cubs changed that last night, October 22, 2016, a day that will go down in history as one of the great days in American baseball. They won the National Championship and the 2016 Pennant.
Click here to listen tot he podcast of this column, or use the widget below:
The Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, and the clincher was at Wrigley Field on Saturday night when Chicago’s team shutout the Dodgers and their over-ballyhooed “fearsome” Goliath of a pitcher, Clayton Kershaw.
In my eyes, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks are today’s Mickey Mantles and Roger Maris, the heroes of my boyhood.
Ernie Banks, who lived in Pill Hill, a few blocks away from where I grew up on Chicago’s South East side in the 1960s, which was also right down the street by another underdog powerhouse, Muhammed Ali. And Ron Santo, and power hitter Billy Williams. The faces changed many times. Great pitcher Fergie Jenkins, Randy Hundley and power hitter Glenn Beckert.
We saw all the names come and go, dogged under the shadow of an excuse, a hyped-up curse. When the Cubs refused to allow Greek immigrant and bar owner Billy Sianis bring his goat into the 1945 World Series game, he vexed them with an Old World, Middle Eastern curse. The Cubs lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers and it’s been drought ever since.
Columnist Mike Royko, who I knew and worked with, glommed on to the story told by the goat owner’s nephew, Sam Sianis, at the Billy Goat Tavern under Michigan Avenue where Royko and his adoring entourage of journalist pals sat eating burgers and drinking beer. Billy Sianis was an entrepreneur and super promoter who once petitioned Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley for the first liquor license for the moon.
Royko later wrote that it was all just in good fun. A typical Chicago good story, or “gawd stawwy” as my City Hall journalism mentor would put it, the late great Harry Golden Jr. It was the only believable explanation for the Cubs failures.
Underdogs are often shouldered with the burden of a nonsensical myth.
The Cubs are playing the Cleveland Indians, who are in a mini-slump of their own, having not won a World Series since 1948. Just no “curse.”
Winning the World Series is great. Playing in the World Series as the underdog is dynamic. Electrifying. Something that will charge up Cubs fans more than any other baseball or sports fan in the country.
This is a new world where Chicago Cubs fans can lift up their heads with pride. They did what everyone said they couldn’t do. It took a long time to get there, 71 years, and who knows if they will win the World Series.
The Cub has become the Bear, and not soon enough, ironically.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Email him at [email protected].)
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania writes columns for the Southwest Community Newspaper Group including the Des Plaines Valley News, the Southwest News-Herald, the Regional News and the Reporter Newspapers.