Hey, fans of the Milwaukee Brewers. Perhaps you’ve been told otherwise by a columnist who insists “we are still part of Chicagoland” before he chases the outdated rehashing of Milwaukee’s little-man syndrome with a first-person account of watching a game at Axel’s and an anecdote about his friend that, while tragic, does little to sell the point to strangers. Maybe you happened upon a Milwaukee radio personality’s explanation “why it’s OK for Milwaukee to root for the Cubs in the World Series,” amid a first-person biography explaining his Illinois roots and rationalizing a Milwaukee-Chicago truce because “both cities share a lot of street names” and “I donned a Radio Milwaukee cap at Wrigley after the Cubs clinched Saturday night and got a few high fives.” Shit, it’s possible that by the time this post is up, OnMilwaukee‘s sports editor will pen a lengthy piece about a pizza place he liked when he was enrolled at Northwestern so, uh, go Cubs for some reason, Milwaukee! [Update: We missed this post from last week. Sorry, Jimmy!]
Despite the abundance of column inches assuring you otherwise, it still isn’t okay to root for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, or ever. Here’s why, with exactly zero personal stories.
Sure, baseball—like most things on Earth—is nothing but an entertaining tool to help distract a portion of the population from the difficulties associated with everyday existence and the all-but-guaranteed eternity of nothingness that follows. So it doesn’t really matter. Yet if you’re going to commit to publicly pledging your allegiance to one group of 25 strangers who have no connection to you beyond allowing you the right to pay to watch them work 81 times annually in a structure you funded, you should at least stay consistent in your preference.
For the 33rd straight season, the World Series has been rendered an unnecessary viewing exercise for Brewers fans. It’s the reason Modern Family won’t be seen at its regularly scheduled time and why Joe Buck takes time away from also ruining NFL broadcasts. However, this Fall Classic is a bit different, given the teams involved. The fact that two of baseball’s oldest and most historic teams—who also have the longest and second-longest title droughts, respectively—makes this an uncharacteristically appealing affair for baseball fans everywhere. With both teams being in the Midwest, Wisconsinites seem especially interested in picking a side. Unfortunately, many seem eager to join the wrong side.
Yes, “we’re neighbors, man,” but shouldn’t that proximity be the very reason Milwaukee’s collective anti-Cubs sentiment stays especially strong now, when the games really matter? It’s obvious baseball is a distant second behind the NFL in Wisconsin’s sports consciousness, but do you recall any op-ed pieces being written in Milwaukee in 2007 pleading for Packer Backers to root for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI? No. And there sure as shit weren’t any written in Chicago to seek support for Green Bay before Super Bowl XLV. If the tables were turned, how many Cubs fans would be cheering on the end of a “curse” of World Serieslessness that’s plagued Milwaukee for close to 50 years? Not many.
Speaking of curses, Cleveland hasn’t won a World Series in 68 seasons. Even with the second most racist name and logo in all of pro sports (the Chicago Blackhawks also crack the top five, by the way), Milwaukee would be pulling for Cleveland—another underappreciated industrial city that’s nationally panned—full force if, say, the Cardinals won the National League pennant this year. It’s safe to assume Cubs fans would be too. Hell, the social ramifications of a Tribe title might actually help push along the national dialogue necessary to change the name once and for all. With any luck, we’ll find out. However, that seems unlikely.
The 2016 Chicago Cubs are great. Beyond their garments and the city where these talented men from other places play their home games, they’re even quite likeable. In all likelihood, the team will take the Series and, by doing so, break baseball’s longest remaining curse. But don’t be fooled, Milwaukee. You don’t have to be okay with it. Spiteful as it sounds, the 18-year-old I-94 rivalry that’s developed between two historically losing teams would be far less interesting for Wisconsin if Brewers fans couldn’t follow banter about high-profile free agent signings and prospects panning out time and time again with a simple-but-brutal “1908.” The world is changing, and most of those changes are for the better of humanity. Still, sports is the one facet of society where it’s fine to hate blindly and where the schadenfreude can still flow freely and taste so sweet. After all, it’s only a game.
It’s said the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. For more than a century, “the Cubs not winning the World Series” was a third fact of life. Root, root, root for the Cubbies if you’d like, but isn’t the world a better place with the cruel, inalienable truth that no living person remembers the last time the Chicago Cubs won a title? Plus, Eddie Vedder likes the Cubs. You don’t want Eddie Vedder to be happy, do you?