Like peeing into an open urinal trough in a Wrigley Field bathroom, surrounded by swaying and belligerent 23-year-olds, the concept of this article makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
Cheer for the Cubs, our hated Chicago baseball rival? But we loathe the Cubs! Why join the depraved ranks of their drunken, day-game-loving fans bleating ceaselessly about a century-long goat curse? Let them wait another year, it’s easy to say! And then how about 108 more again after that!
But my friends – and I do mean friends, from the Brewers fans counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report to get a first look at Josh Hader to those still rocking their 2008 J.J. Hardy shirseys to games – it may be time to consider the inconceivable: rooting for the Cubs, currently down, 2-1, to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series going into Wednesday night’s Game 4, to win it all.
I know. I know! I’m sorry to even have to type those words. Few things pain me more, and I understand if many of you have already left to post fuming Facebook comments. Totally fair. This doesn’t feel right; after all, the accomplishment I’m most proud of as a sports fan was once getting a group of blackout Cubs fans ejected from Wrigley for inciting them to furiously scream, directly in front of a right-field usher, that they were going to f*cking kill me. Good times.
Anyway, the Brewers are still a few years away from contending again and, outside of Marco Estrada somehow pitching well for the Blue Jays and Terry Francona being a cool manager in Cleveland, there really are no compelling reasons for Milwaukeeans to cheer for any of the remaining teams in the MLB Playoffs. So let me try to make the case for why Brewers fans should root for the Cubs, even though it hurts and feels kind of gross, to win the World Series.
Because let’s be honest: At the end of the day, they’re going to choke and lose regardless.
1. If the Cubs win, their fans might finally shut up
Chicago’s North Side club hasn’t won the title since 1908, and then decades later, a smelly goat jinxed it (or something), so the Cubs haven’t even been to the World Series since 1945. For 70 years, we’ve heard all the woeful hogwash (you have to use fogyish newspaper words like "hogwash" when discussing stuff that old) and sob-story bellyaching ad nauseam about curses and Lovable Losers and Old Style being a decent beer.
Think about all the people you know from Chicago. Now think about if they didn’t have an obnoxious fake sports-victim complex and never talked to you about the Billy Goat or baseball in general ever again. Pretty neat, right? If American civilization is to progress, the Cubs need to win the World Series so the tortured affliction can end and we can all start talking about, then become irritated by, something else.
2. Be the bigger fan base
And speaking of character, what better way to seize the moral sports high ground than to cheer for your archrivals? I despise that Miller Park becomes Wrigley Field North during home Cubs series as much as anyone (especially when the pandering Brewers invite a Bears player to throw out the first pitch), but criticizing Chicago fans with the usual insults – homogenous, drunk, casual – rings a little hypocritical for Milwaukee. We've all seen our tailgates. It’s easier just to smilingly channel our mothers and say, "I’m so happy for you guys! You really deserve it," before turning away, rolling your eyes and reminding yourself that the Bears still suck.
Look, the Cubs are good – they had the best record in baseball this year – and the Brewers are not, and we can’t change that right now. But when you’re the party that’s not in power, there’s nothing more satisfying than sanctimony, patronization and false praise. Great job, Chicago!
3. The Cubs’ success is the ideal outcome of the Brewers’ current plan
In 2011, Theo Epstein took over as the Cubs’ president of baseball operations and announced a full-scale organizational reconstruction, which entailed first bottoming out and then building back up through trades, draft picks and smart personnel decisions that eventually would produce talented young players at the major-league level. In 2012, Chicago went 61-101, the second-worst record, and then methodically improved each year (66-96 in 2013, 73-89 in 2014, 97-65 in 2015 and 103-58 this season), one of the fastest 100-loss to 100-win turnarounds in baseball history.
Under general manager David Stearns, Milwaukee is doing the exact same thing. Utilizing a smart approach and advanced operations, the Brewers have embarked on a total and transparent rebuild aimed at acquiring potential-filled prospects, shedding veteran contracts and laying the foundation to compete for a championship in a few years. They went 73-89 in 2016; if they’re in the playoffs in three seasons, fans can thank the Cubs for providing the rebuilding blueprint.
4. Bill Murray would be happy
Who doesn’t want to see diehard Cubs fans and hilariously wonderful human being Bill Murray happy?
5. Cardinals fans would be unhappy
This one’s huge. If you’re like me, you hate the St. Louis Cardinals – and especially their self-righteous "best fans in baseball" – more than you hate the Chicago Cubs. They beat Milwaukee in the 1982 World Series; they beat Milwaukee in the 2011 NLCS; they beat Milwaukee frequently and with impunity for much of every regular season. For the first time in six years, the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs in 2016. In itself, that was something to celebrate.
But as much as the Cubs and Cardinals are rivals of the Brewers, they are even more bitterly rivals of each other. Chicago, long the sloshed screw-up to St. Louis’ model older brother, finally has a chance to lord something actually baseball-related over those Busch-swilling quasi-southerners. Milwaukee, we want Cards fans to be sad.
6. This is a fun team
The Chicago roster Epstein has put together is young, exciting and really good. It’s got big-time mashers (both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hit more than 30 home runs), one of the best rotations in baseball (all five starters had sub-4.00 ERAs and at least 140 strikeouts) and a bananas bullpen (including closer Aroldis Chapman and his 103 mph fastball). Plus, there’s a high-priced former Cardinal who has sucked (Jason Heyward, after signing a $184 million contract, slumped his way to a .230 batting average and .631 on-base plus slugging percentage – and he’s been even worse in the playoffs!), which makes the Cubs even more enjoyable.
Their players post goofy Dubsmash videos on Instagram and take funny team costume pictures. Their postseason heroes thus far have been Miguel Montero, a 33-year-old light-hitting catcher who smacked a winning grand slam in Game 1, and his gray-bearded backup, David Ross, the 39-year-old who homered in Game 4 of the NLDS to beat San Francisco. Old Man Ross, who’s said he’s retiring after this season, deserves a shot to be a World Series hero and go out a winner.
And the manager, Joe Maddon, is a lovable weird-uncle type, an alternative-thinking sort-of sommelier who brought live bears to spring training, enacted a zany dress code and has earned a reputation for making absolutely crazy moves that always seem to work out in the end.
7. Jake Arrieta’s beard
Last year, the Cubs’ ace shaved his beard off when their playoff run ended, so it’s a good bet he’ll do the same this season. As long as Chicago stays alive, it’s going to keep growing; let’s see what that gnarly thing looks like in two more weeks!
8. It’s good for the NL Central, I guess?
Would the Cubs winning the World Series reflect well on the rest of the division, which went from the best in baseball to one of the most mediocre in 2016? Probably not, but that’s a line of argument sports fans – especially Badgers fans cheering for other Big Ten Conference teams – often use, so we’ll go with it. Milwaukee went 8-11 against Chicago this year, so maybe history will reflect some of those as "good losses" if the Cubs are crowned champions.
9. Seeing an underdog triumph is awesome and inspiring
No, actually, never mind, forget this one. Chicago is a huge market with a long baseball history that has an enormous payroll and unwavering local support. Just because you’ve been an incompetent loser for a century and everyone expects you to fail doesn’t mean you’re an underdog.
10. It’s better than the alternatives
Cheering for the Dodgers sounds awful, and Los Angeles is like a more Chicago-y Chicago to us humble Milwaukeeans. The Blue Jays play in Toronto, which is in Canada, so they’re out. The Indians are fine, but the Cavaliers just won the NBA Finals last year, and wasn’t it more fun to dump on Cleveland as a terrible city? Plus, Chicago is in the Midwest, so regional pride.
Is that poor guy in witness protection? Hopefully wherever he is, he’s still listening to his headphones and drowning out the undying vitriol that’s persisted in Chicago since his notorious foul-ball incident in 2003. A Cubs title would presumably mean a long-awaited pardon for Steve Bartman.
12. Ronnie Woo Woo
This man is a true treasure that Chicago needs to share with the rest of the country. A lifelong Cubs fan and local celebrity who was homeless for a time and is now in his 70s, Ronnie Wickers is beloved for his tireless "Cubs, woo! Cubs, woo!" chants at Wrigley Field and avid, eccentric support. He takes the insufferably annoying Cubs fan archetype and makes it tolerably endearing.
13. Morbid curiosity about whether Chicago will destroy itself
Without wishing injury or harm on anyone or anything, it would be fascinating to observe from afar how the city of Chicago might react to the Cubs winning the World Series. I was there in 2010 when the Blackhawks finally won their first Stanley Cup in 50 years, and it was utterly crazed pandemonium. What level of destruction and havoc would fans inflict on their hometown if the longest- and most insistently suffering sports fans in America were compelled to celebrate a baseball championship? Would it be the Great Chicago Fire, Part II?
14. Cubs fans really aren’t that bad
The most common and comfortable complaint about Cubs fans is that they’re all drunk, white, casual bandwagon fans who don’t really care about the team or know anything about baseball and just want to party. As demonstrated above, I don’t mind perpetuating that because sports stereotypes are fun and any reasonable person understands they’re just silly generalizations, not something to get upset about.
Having said that, sports are escapism and entertainment. Whether people want to get hammered and take Snapchats the whole time or diligently keep score, or anything in between, they should access and enjoy the games at the level they want. As long as you’re not hurting anyone – or missing the urinal trough completely – be whatever type of sports fan you want to be.
Just as long as it’s not a Cardinals fan.
15. Anyways, they’re going to choke and lose
It’s the Cubs! This story can only end in heartbreak and defeat. Go Brewers!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.