I’ve never liked the Cubs. While this weekend’s series is simultaneously a probable NLDS preview and relatively meaningless, I want the Nats to win the series mostly out of spite. I don’t like the Cubs.
I grew up eastern KY/southern WV as a Reds fan. The only baseball you could watch there was either the Braves on TBS or the Cubs on WGN (sandwiched between Matlock episodes). So my only television viewing experience of the Reds was through the broadcasts of opposing teams. Having to listen to someone cheer your defeats and mourn your victories is no way to grow up. I loved the Reds and hated the Cubs and Braves. In time, my disillusion with the Reds’ post-World Series handling of Eric Davis in the early 1990’s dulled my fandom and left me without a team to care for. And so I was more than ready to jump, whole-heartedly, into the Expo-relocation-then-city-counsel drama and the resulting Washington Nationals franchise. I could go to the games myself. I could love a team on my own, and without having to do it looking through the prism of my enemies.
I was a Nats fan now, yet my distaste for the Braves and the Cubs never wavered. I can’t stand either team to this day.
Tom Boswell tells us to relax and enjoy the show. And he’s right. The Nats have a comfortable lead, which allows them the luxury of working stuff out on the fly. They are coming into Chicago without most of their rotation and a banged-up, scuffling lineup to face a hot team that traded for two guys I would have loved to see in Washington: Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson. Winning the series under these conditions would surely give the Nats and their fans some confidence if the two teams see each other this fall. Ultimately, it only matters who’s in the lineup in the postseason, not this weekend, so it won’t matter too much if the Cubs win. It’ll be interesting to see how the new relievers do against the Cubs’ lineup, and the outcomes of individual at-bats will come into play if they see each other again. The actual outcomes of the games matter less in the grand scheme of things, and it’s a long time between August and October; a lot happens in the course of a baseball season. But I’ll be bothered if the Nats lose. I can’t stand the Cubs. Joe Maddon is a weird wuss.
Harry Caray was awesome — don’t get me wrong. But I hated hear him yell, “Cubs win! Cubs win!” August can get boring as we either gear up of the pennant race or begin looking ahead to the postseason. It makes it fun for me to care a little bit more than I should. I hope the Nats win and I’ll be mad if they don’t, even if the odds are against them.
In the last 30 days, the Cubs are hitting .271/.346/.480 with a wRC+ of 113 (or 13% better than the league average) – compared to the Nats’ slash line of .268/.322/.474 and 105 wRC+ over the same time. They are out-pitching the Nats over the last month too. Their team ERA is 3.44 to the Nats’ 4.18. While the Nats have the 2nd best record in the National League, the Cubs are finally playing more like last year’s World Champions than the team that hovered below .500 for the first half of this season. The Cubs bolstered their starting rotation as the Nats lost theirs. Sure, the Nats have three shiny new relievers, but the Cubs added to their already-good bullpen. Bryce Harper has cooled off as Kyle Schwarber has heated up. I don’t care. I want to win.
In the beginning days of the Nationals, I rarely cared too much about the game score. I watched to see how young players did. I went to RFK to relax, have a beer, and enjoy the game in relative peace (most of the time). It was fun. The team was terrible and depressing, but there were major league baseball games in the town I lived. Republicans wore the red home hat and Democrats wore the blue road one. So I got a red one for my dad and blue one for me. Those will always be the only type of Nats hats I, or my son, will ever own. The blue cap/red bill/Braves knock-off Nats hat is an abomination. I can’t stand it because I can’t stand the Braves. Beating the Braves and beating the Cubs is the foundation of my Nationals fandom.
This weekend will be fun. Three day games in a great place to watch a game. Wrigley Field always looks cool and the games will get a lot of national attention. Having a series win in your back pocket can’t possibly be a bad thing come October, but beating the Cubs is better. Man, I hate the Cubs.Tags: Chicago Cubs, Cubs, Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals