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Good Luck, Cubs. (Mostly) Sincerely, A Cardinals Fan

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 5, 2016 7:40PM

His tears are your ambrosia / Getty Images / Photo: Brian Bahr

To be a Cardinals fan outside of St. Louis is to be loathed; to be a Cardinals fan living on the North Side of Chicago—well, if you imagine Ivan the Terrible with a popped collar, laughing at his own jokes, you're getting close to the level of disdain.

That’s what baseball mythology would have you believe, anyway. And while this native St. Louisan and Redbird lifer has certainly contended with overly aggressive Wrigley Field bleacher bros and their Old Style-stained comrades, most of the Cubs fans I know and call friends are perfectly lovely. For that reason—and more below—I think I’m ready to finally say it: I wish the Cubs well this postseason.

I’m hardly the first to feel this way. Chicago Reader columnist and Cards fan Michael Miner wrote movingly last year that the cancer diagnosis of beloved St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist—and Chicago native/Cubs fan—Bill McLellan was enough to get him to cross party allegiances once the Cubs handily dispensed with their rivals. More recently, Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen penned the excellent “How a Cardinals fan learned to stop worrying and love (well, not hate) the Cubs.”

Part of the reason I feel comfortable in joining their ranks and not feeling like a turncoat is twofold: first, the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs—otherwise, nuts to this; second, I suspect Cubs fans hate this kind of thing—which makes it a little easier. Public declarations of magnanimity are exactly the kind of Cardinal Way/ “best fans in baseball” sanctimony that Cubs fans so relish in undercutting—usually by pointing out that some Cardinals fans are seriously shitty garbage people. Please don’t toss me in with the trash, but I’ll take that presumed sense of irritation as an escape hatch, thanks!

But there are genuine reasons for anyone to wish the Cubs well. They’re historically great, and excellence should be rewarded (although, in baseball, it is certainly nowhere near a given). And the team does awesome stuff like dress as Jake from State Farm, bike to games in uniform, travel in beachwear and play pitchers in the outfield. Best of all is Joe Maddon. His roll call of lovable moments is too long to list, so I’ll just offer my most recent favorite:

Cardinals fans have never felt so much unrelenting manager envy.

Lastly, I also feel a bizarre kinship with the Cubs plight. My beloved St. Louis Blues are about to enter their 50th year of existence as a professional hockey franchise, and also their 50th year of zero championships—despite many competitive stretches. I just did the math and 50 is indeed less than 108; but we still know the pain of the should’ve-beens, not unlike the equally mythologized Replacements who had to settle for beautiful-loser acclaim in lieu of greater success. Such has been our lot.

Also, screw the Giants. And the Mets. They’re the worst.