Being a Chicago Cubs fan is hard. They don’t make it easy.
Now that the Boston Red Sox have established themselves as
regular Major League Baseball World Series winners this century, there’s an
undisputed champion loser, the Cubs.
The Cubbies have gone over 100 years without winning a World
Series. In fact, the last time they were in a World Series World War II had
just ended and the idea of baseball on TV hadn’t even become a glint in
anyone’s eye (See “Curse of the Billy Goat” for an explanation of this
futility). That’s a really bad stat when you consider that the Cubs have played
more seasons in one town than any other team and are second in total seasons
played only to the Boston-Milwaukee-Atlanta Red Stockings-Beaneaters-Doves-Rustlers-Braves-Bees-Braves.
So the former Chicago Orphans have that losing thing down
pat. But they’ve also been a team that has stuck to its traditions through
thick and thin. Wrigley Field practically chokes on its own quaintness and the
team has played there since 1916. Though there are grumblings about a new
They had a legendary broadcaster in Harry Caray who replaced
another legend in Jack Brickhouse. Brickhouse almost went back to the Cubs’
last World Series. The Cubs relationship with TV broadcaster WGN is lengthy and
important to MLB. It’s so lengthy that the term “Superstation” was coined for
WGN and rival WTBS, which carried those Braves, way back when. The two stations
brought the Cubs and Braves to millions of viewers not in Chicago or Atlanta.
They built national fanbases for both teams. They, perhaps more than anyone,
were responsible in the cracks that broke the broadcasting monopolies and made
possible the cable sports cornucopia we know today.
However, cracks are now appearing in the hallowed
WGN(TV)-Cubs relationship. The ex-Colts relatively new owners have said that if
WGN doesn’t pony-up more money they may offer the Cubs contract to another
outlet (one that may not exist yet, hint-hint). Admittedly, WGN does have a
sweet deal, though they could argue that they no longer are the sole TV
broadcaster any longer, and what about a little home-cooking for your old
buddies. (The thud you hear in the background is the ancient and hidebound WGN
execs passing out).
On the senior broadcast outlet front, the Cubs relationship
with radio station WGN(AM) goes back so far no one is sure when it began and it
might be the oldest team-broadcaster relationship in all major league sports.
At this particular moment, it seems safe but color commentator Keith Moreland
has just announced that he’s quitting to spend more time with his family.
That’s always code for something else.
Moreland’s only been around a paltry three years so he’s
really just a blink in Cub years. He replaced the legendary Ron Santo (who was
also a playing legend). Still, to leave what should be one of the high-profile
radio broadcasting jobs … one has to wonder. No word yet on when the auditions
will take place but get that air check reel ready.
Yes, things seem to be a little shaky in Chi-Town but at
least when you’re at Wrigley, watching the original White Stockings give
another one away, you can always drown your sorrows in an Old Style beer …
What? Bud? That’s a beer from that hated town down south that can’t be
mentioned! Oh, this stinks! Stinks as bad as that damn billy goat they threw
out of Wrigley in 1945.