Trouble in Chicagoland?

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 stadium.

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.

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