The Chicago Cubs discourse community has certainly taken a beating over the last century. The Cubs have not brought a World Series Championship to the north side of Chicago since the 1907 and 1908 teams were able to win back to back championships. Today the Cubs discourse community is regarded as one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball. They have not won a playoff game since 2003 when the infamous “Bartman Ball” revamped the “Cubs Curse,” leaving hundreds of thousands of fans in turmoil.
Today the Cubs play for a new purpose. This purpose is to steadily build a line-up that can compete with the best teams in the Major Leagues. With a new general manager, a new coach, and a new mindset, the 2013 Chicago Cubs discourse community is aimed towards blowing the top off of their last 100 years of failure, and bringing a World Series Trophy home to Wrigley Field.
Images via: http://wgntv.com/2013/03/07/chicago-cubs-2013-launch-ernie-banks/ and http://chicagosportsmaven.com/2008/09/25/do-the-chicago-cubs-own-destiny-only-time-will-tell/
The stage could not be properly set for the 2013 Chicago Cubs discourse community without mentioning Steve Bartman and the 8th inning of game six in the 2003 NCLS. But before all the miserable details of that story can be described, the timeline must be set back a few decades earlier in order to accurately portray the ultimate anguish of the Chicago Cubs discourse community. On October 6th, 1945, the Cubs were preparing to play in game four of the World Series. William Stains, local goat tavern owner and Cubs fan brought his goat to the game with hope that his pet may bring the Cubs some extra luck. After all, it had been been 37 agonizing years since the Cubs last championship (37 years? yeah… big deal). Unfortunately for William, the goat, and the future of the entire Chicago Cubs discourse community the goat was turned away by the ushers at the gates of Wrigley Field. William was furious and exclaimed “The Cubs will never win another World Series as long as the Goat is not allowed in Wrigley!” Sure enough, the Cubs lost game four of the World Series and were swept at home to end their 1945 playoff run. Thus, marking the dreadful era of the “Curse of the Billy Goat.” The Curse held true for 58 years. But in 2003, the Cubs had a powerful team and it looked as through they might finally break the curse by winning the NCLS and advancing to the World Series.
The Cubs led the Florida Marlins 3-2 games in the NLCS, and the Series was headed back to Wrigley where the Marlins would have to face the Cubs pitching ace, Mark Prior. It seemed as though the stars were aligned in the north side of Chicago, but unfortunately, every Cubs fan knows how this story ends. The downfall all started in the top of the eighth inning. The Cubs were winning 3-0 and were only 5 outs away from advancing to the World Series when a Marlins player hit a shallow “pop fly” to left field. The ball drifted into the stands and a fan named Steve Bartman interfered with the Cubs left fielder Mosis Alou. Alou dropped the ball and all hell broke loose at Wrigley. From that point on, the entire atmosphere of the game shifted. The fans lost their temper with the poor Cubs fan who was just trying to take home a souvenir. The fans were no longer focused on cheering the Cubs on, rather they were bitter about the “Bartman Blunder.” The Marlins tagged the Cubs for 8 runs in the 8th inning. The Cubs would lose the game 8-3 and later the Series. In 2003 the Marlins beat the Yankees to win the World Series.
Stains, Sam. “The World-Famous Billy Goat Tavern – The Curse of the Billy Goat – Cubs Curse.” The World-Famous Billy Goat Tavern – The Curse of the Billy Goat – Cubs Curse. Billygoattavern.com, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. .
Image via: http://meetthematts.com/40960/mlb-playoffs-moments-to-remember/steve-bartman-chicago-cubs/
In 2004 the Boston Red Sox came back from a three game deficit to defeat the New York Yankees in the ALCS and advance to the World Series. Once there, they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals and finally broke their 96 year World Series curse, “The Curse of the Great bambino.” Three years later, the Red Sox won another World Championship for good measures. Their fearless leader was general manager, Theo Epstein. To Red Sox fans, Epstine is a savior. At 28 years old, Epstine is the youngest general manager to ever win a world series. Many call him the “Wiz Kid,” but to the Cubs, Epstine is “The Chosen One.”
In 2011 the Chicago Cubs welcomed Epstine into their discourse community with hope that he could resurrect the Cubs organization as he did with the Red Sox. Currently Epstein is in the process of building a team that will be able to compete in the future. The Cubs do not necessarily expect to win a world championship in 2013, but they do expect to make a very competitive leap towards becoming an elite baseball team. Epstine has brought a new reason for fans to be optimistic about the future of Cubs baseball.
“Theo Epstein Bio.” Chicago Tribune. Chicagotribune.com, 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. .!
Images via: http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/boston_red_sox/2010/12/theo_epstein_now_unstoppable and http://www.inquisitr.com/149937/theo-epstein-joins-chicago-cubs-world-may-end-in-next-five-years/
Although the Cubs discourse community has had a rough last decade or two, one thing is certain. The history and tradition has always held true in the north side of Chicago. The Cubs consistently draw some of the largest crows in the Major Leagues and have one of the strongest fan bases in the game. Much of this is due to many of the meaningful team artifacts and traditions that are linked to the Cubs discourse community. The Cubs home stadium, Wrigley Field, was built in 1914, making it the second-oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues. It’s ivy-covered brick fence, rooftop seating, and retro hand-managed scoreboard help the stadium serve as one of the most significant symbols of the Cubs past-time. It wasn’t until 1988 that the Cubs added lights to Wrigley. Their opposition against adding lights was an effort to preserve the baseball tradition which was; exclusively playing day games.
“Wrigley Field History.” Chicago Cubs. MLB.com, 2001-2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2013
Image via: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wrigley_field_720.jpg
The Cubs discourse community has many rituals to preserve. One of their most famous rituals is singing “Go Cubs Go,” at the conclusion of every Cubs home victory. When the final out of the last inning is recorded, or the winning run crosses home plate to seal a Cubs victory, “Go Cubs Go” is played throughout the stadium. 23 years ago, “die-hard” Cubs fan and musician Steve Goodman wrote and recorded what is now know as the Cubs “Anthem” in Wrigleyville. Players and fans stand up and sing along as the entire Cubs discourse community celebrates the Cub’s victory. As an avid fan of the Cubs, and a member of their much larger discourse community, I got Goosebumps the first time I participated in the “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley.
Ryno4ever. “Go Cubs Go Song… the History.” Fogpog RSS. Fogpog.com, Dec. 2006. Web. 04 Apr. 2013.
video via: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6r2HuFgZGY
One technique the Cubs use to help them win games is a unique type of communication. Baseball is well-known for its frequent and seemingly in cohesive use of gestures between coaches and players on the field. The Cubs players and coaches use a series of different hand gestures they call “signs.” These signs are used to translate information across the field in a discreet manner. A single gesture could notify the middle infielders of a catcher’s snap throw down to second base, or suggest to the pitcher what type of pitch to throw. It goes without saying that it would be impossible to research information on the Cubs current play calls, but the picture above portrays a general idea of what the Cubs tactical play calling system might look like.
image via: http://www.mlb-wallpapers.com/Chicago-Cubs/Chicago-Cubs-Catcher/
Another symbol that unifies the Cubs discourse community is their uniforms. The Cubs wear matching uniforms for every game to look sharp, and suggest to their audience (the fans and opposing team) that they are a unified group. The Cubs uniforms and logos have changed many times over the years, but no matter how many logo and jersey changes the Cubs have made, the team has never run onto the field without corresponding uniforms. Today, jerseys depend on the venue and the day of the game. The Cubs will generally alternate between three uniforms, which are their home, away, and alternative jerseys. The Cubs alternative jerseys are all blue with the Cubs logo stitched on the left side of their chest. The Cubs away jerseys, which are the most boring in my opinion, are all grey with “Chicago” printed across the chest in red and white letters. Grey jerseys are custom from most Major League teams when playing on the road. The Cubs home jerseys can be seen in the pictures above. These are my favorite because they look sharp, and the preserve the old style tradition of the Chicago Cubs discourse community.
Images via: http://www.chicitysports.com/2013/03/05/17-in-6-the-best-chicago-sports-moments-in-the-past-6-years/ and http://www.thecubsbrickyard.com/2008/08/29/cubs-stage-unbelievable-comeback-unwatchable-show/ and http://vineline.mlblogs.com/tag/walk-off/
I believe the 2012 MLB was an odd one. The Cubs lost 101 games and finished second to last in the NL central, this was no shocker, but the playoff teams certainly were. The teams that made up the 2012 playoffs were the Yankees, Orioles, Tigers, Athletics, Nationals, Braves, Reds, and Giants. Any avid baseball fan who fell asleep at the beginning of the MLB season and was woken up at the end would have been surprised by 3 teams. The Orioles, Athletics, and Nationals came out of nowhere last year to upset the favorites and steal playoff spots. This was astonishing because up until last year these three teams had been at about the same level as the Cubs. However, unlike the Cubs discourse community, these three teams adapted a slow motion approach and the acquisition and development of young talent. This is the approach the Cubs are attempting to make with their new general manager Theo Epstine. The current face of the Chicago Cubs discourse community is shortstop Starlin Castro. Castro is a perfect example of the young talent the Cubs are looking to bring into their organization in order to build towards developing a solid line-up. He is smart, fast, young, a good leader, and a very technical infielder. Castro is a very talented ballplayer who is a lot of fun to watch.
Video via: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0cp3V8hXHo
Throughout the extended Cubs organizational discourse community the system of hierarchy can get long and messy. But on the field, the Cubs team prefers to have a more simple hierarchy that promotes team chemistry, and ultimately gives them the best chance to win. Head coach Dale Sveum holds the most power in the dugout. His bench coaches and assistant coaches under him help direct the team as well. Although there is techniqully a system of hierarchy in the Cubs team discourse community, like any sports team, there must be leadership from many players for the whole team to be successful. Cubs Manager Dale Sveum stated in an interview for ESPN.com, “When things aren’t going well you realize how important the clubhouse is to keep in tact… Holding everybody accountable for what they had to do on a daily basis.” Dale Sveum conveys that everybody must be held accountable when it comes to the success of the team. Professional sports have a funny type of hierarchy. Every single player has a job to do in order for the entire team to be successful. Nobody is greater than anyone else. The Cubs system of Hierarchy is no different.
Levine, Bruce. “Sveum Faces Higher Expectations in 2013.” ESPN Chicago. ESPN.com, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2013
“There’s always next year.” – Any Cubs fan ever
Momentum is a tough force to stop, especially when it has been exponentially down spiraling for the last 100 years. Normally in sports reputations come and go. Teams have a bad decade or so, cut a few players, make some management changes and then find their success later down the road. Take the Cubs rivals, the Chicago White Sox for example. As much as it kills me to say, in recent years the White Sox have found their success. In 2005 the White Sox ended their 88 year World Series championship drought and brought a Trophy back to the south side. The same goes for the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they ended their 96 year slump.
Why is it that this basic law seems to be set for all teams throughout professional sports, but it does not stand true for the Cubs? How is it possible they have been so bad for so long? After extensively researching the Cubs discourse community, and allowing my Cubs ego to stand down I found the answer. The Cubs are professional sports “lovable losers.”
Baseball season hinders some of the prettiest months in Chicago. On a beautiful 85 degree day the sun beats down on Wrigley. The Cubs consistently draw huge crows, rake in tons of money, and give the fans at Wrigley an experience day in and day out. The beer tastes just the same to the rowdy Cubs fans in the bleachers when Cubs lose as it would if they were winning. This trend has kept them among one of Americas favorite sports teams. This has been the Cubs reputation for over 100 years and all is good in Wrigleyville, so why change anything now. From my experience as a Cubs fan, no matter how many games they lose in a single season, I know there is “always next year.”