On October 28 2004, the morning after the Red Sox won their first World Series title in 86 years, the New York Post (of course they did) ran with a simple headline of “’Bout Time” plastered across a picture of Jason Varitek and Keith Foulke celebrating after the final out at old Busch. Coming from a city that had been home to four World Series titles the previous nine seasons (not to mention six pennants), it was pretty damn petty. But jokes about 1918, or 80 years and counting were finished. Instead, dismissing the Red Sox’ long awaited victory with a smug “’bout time” was all that Yankees fans had left that day.
After last night’s thrilling Game 7 in Cleveland, that’s where we sit this morning. The Chicago Cubs are world (world?) champions. Snide remarks about 1908 have been rendered forever meaningless and buried right next to 1945. And St. Louis in all its Midwestern charm doesn’t even have a newspaper shameful enough to take a passive-aggressive shot at the Cubs. (Side note: That might not be entirely true.)
Worse, and the Red Baron touched upon this quite well yesterday, this can’t be dismissed as a fluke or the end of something. It’s likely the beginning. The Red Sox’ championship in 2004 started a run of three titles in ten seasons. Would anyone be surprised if this stacked, young Cubs squad did the same? Ten years from now they could have more World Series titles over the last fifty years than the Cardinals. Let that sink in for a bit. Just five years ago the mere thought was preposterous.
The Cubs have always played in the more glamorous city, the quainter ballpark, and had all the romanticism that went with somehow turning a century-plus worth of mediocrity into something that was deemed “lovable.” The Cardinals countered that with the things that actually mattered - at least, as it pertained to sports - like generations worth of good, winning baseball. If they aren’t the best franchise historically in the National League, then they are close. And, they beat the Cubs like a drum. Don’t listen to that “the Cubs have a better overall head-to-head record” nonsense. Going back to 1940 the Cardinals have a .542 winning percentage (761-643) against the Northsiders.
When the Cardinals didn’t beat the Cubs, like after last year’s NLDS, the 1908 meme was always waiting as soon as the Cubs’ season inevitably ended short of a World Series. No more, and that’s fine. Good, even. Have we as fans lost the upper hand with Cubs fans? Probably, but who cares. With 1908 out of the way, this might start to feel like a rivalry built on actual competitiveness rather than status. And maybe this will be the wake-up call Mozeliak and company need to realize that it will take a different sort of ingenuity to compete with this Cubs squad than what’s worked the last ten years.
So congrats to the 2016 Chicago Cubs. They were one of the better teams of my lifetime and were a pleasure to watch. It truly was about time. The 1908 jokes are finished and we’re all better for it. Now let’s hope it’s another 108 years before they win their next World Series, and that we’re all good and dead and not around to see it.