I’m basically a pretty nice guy, but in past lives (if you believe in that sort of thing) I must have been a real bastard. How else do you explain growing up with these two favorite teams, the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Cubs? And, for good measure, ending up just outside of Washington, DC and for no explicable reason finding myself a Washington Bullets Wizards fan.
Actually, there is an explicable reason for the Wizards thing, and that reason is Michael Jordan. Already a Cubs fan, I started following MJ and the Chicago Bulls during his rookie year and, until Tracy Porter made me fall out of my chair one night in February 2010, that was my only brush with rooting for a championship team. So, when he came to DC and announced he was returning to the court I figured, what the heck, I’ll see what these Bullets Wizards are all about. Much to my chagrin I found out, but it was too late. My DNA must predispose me to loving losers.
I certainly attached myself early on to the Cubs. It was an impossibly convoluted list of reasons that resulted in my Cubbie fandom, including:
- Growing up in Louisiana with no geographically appropriate team to cheer for. Well, there were the Astros, but no way was I rooting for a team that wore marmalade uniforms and played in the Not-so-super-dome.
- Access to two superstations that regularly aired major league baseball, WGN and TBS. The Cubs and Braves were both horrible, but Atlanta was all-pitch, no-hit and the Cubs were one all-hit, no-pitch. At seven years old I figured if I was going to watch losers, might as well see some home runs. Besides, there were plenty of Braves fans around and I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian.
- A (step-)grandmother who, for reasons I have yet to understand, was a Cubs fan. I think she might have just liked Harry Caray. She was also a switchboard operator at the local hospital and worked the late, late shift, which meant when I stayed with her during the summer she was usually asleep until 3pm. I was ordered to watch and report on the Cubs’ games for her. In return, I got all the chocolate milk I could drink.
Anyway, whatever the reason, Cubs it was.
The Saints I came by honestly, growing up in Louisiana right at the height of the famed Dome Patrol and the first legitimately good teams to don the black and gold. But even during some good, even remarkable, seasons it was all for naught. The Saints were stuck in the NFC West (speaking of inexplicable) and perpetually blocked by the 49ers of Joe Montana and Steve Young. As the years passed winning seasons were few and far between, but it never mattered. I cheered John Fourcade running for his life, believed Wesley Carroll was the next great wideout and didn’t understand why Ironhead Heyward didn’t get at least 500 carries a game. I was thrilled when Mike Ditka arrived, and even happier when he left. And when the clock hit all zeros in Super Bowl 44 I absolutely lost my everloving mind.
And that was really when this blog was born. After three decades of fanatical devotion to teams that could only be described as losers I finally knew what it felt like for my team – yes, MY TEAM – to be a winner. Not just a winner, but the winner. And if the Saints can win the Super Bowl, then why can’t the Cubs win the World Series? Why can’t John Wall become the next Isiah Thomas and one day kill the Curse O’ Les Boulez? And (perhaps most importantly) in an age of talk radio haters and internet trolls, why can’t I cheer for my teams, win or lose, even if it’s overwhelmingly the latter? Why can’t I root for them, hope for them, even when everyone else says they are hopeless? Because I know what it will feel like when they finally break through and I will have been with them every step of the way. Because I have felt the elation that comes with finally watching them become champions. Because even losers can win.
I’ve seen it happen.