Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day-Off Reflections: Carefree Fans

A lot of people have given Milton Bradley and Lou Piniella much grief for (among other things) saying they weren't aware of how intense Cubs fans were until arriving here. The consensus criticism is that they should have known that in a top-3 media market and a national fan base, only a complete stranger to the baseball world would be caught unawares by the rabid Cubbie Faithful.

I hate to get all contrary on you (no, I don't) but I'm surprised by the intensity of Cub fans, and I've been one for three decades.

Cub fans weren't always like this. We didn't always demand good baseball. Don't get me wrong, there have always been drunken jerks at the games (just ask Lee Elia). But by my faltering recollection, the most vocal Cubs fans were usually confined to . . . well, inside the Friendly Confines.

Historically, the Chicago media has rarely held this team to any kind of high standard. Before the era of blogging and twittering and the rise of sports talk radio, Cub fans weren't all that vocal. Or demanding. Or entitled.

Granted, the above video might be the pinnacle of Cubbie achievement in the modern era, but did you look at the fans in those pictures? Guys wearing nothing but the shortest of shorts, standing on dugouts? It looks more like Woodstock than the Cubbie-blue saturated sea of solemn faces. Today, Cub fans look almost corporate.

Ever since the recent pre-playoff success, Cubs fans have expected far more than ever. They're more vocal, less joyful, and less fun than they've been in a long time. I don't blame anybody for being surprised. I just hope they can win enough to turn the tide.
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