The Cub Fan’s Lament

We swore we just wanted one before we died. We didn’t set preconditions or enter into negotiations. That’s not really how deals with the devil work. We just wanted a World Series title for our beloved North Siders before we passed on — and honestly, if it came a year or two after we croaked that was fine too. For that single trophy, no cost was too high.

And then we got it. Ohhhh boy did we get it. 10 innings of it. Five million people in the streets for it. The miracles and rain delays and David Ross of it. It was all we’d ever dreamed of.

But from the very get-go, we knew what we’d given up. I remember saying the night of Game 7 that in hindsight, I was actually glad that Aroldis Chapman had given up the lead in the eighth inning because it meant that he – fresh off a suspension for domestic violence and seemingly unrepentant – wasn’t on the mound the moment we clinched. He wasn’t in the photos and wouldn’t be remembered as our savior. He could be relegated to the role of a rent-an-arm who had sort of panned out and could now be shipped back to the Bronx.

Fast forward four seasons and things are… blurrier. When the Ricketts family delivered a World Series championship, the love they felt from the city was as overpowering as it was genuine. Perhaps no owners in American sports built up such a vast amount of goodwill in such a short amount of time. And they immediately started spending it.

Consider: 

Now, as the 2020 season approaches, the relationship between ownership and fans has deteriorated even further. Tom Ricketts was booed heartily at the Cubs Convention when he mentioned the yet-to-be-launched Marquee Sports Network, and he seemed genuinely confused by the reaction. Never mind that with less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, 60% of Cubs fans still have no way to watch games. Or that the lucky few who are permitted to watch games will be forced to tune in to a channel owned by the people who did this. What’s not to love? Why are all you booing the nice billionaire?? Where has all the goodwill gone???

The honest answer is that it was spent much faster than anyone could have anticipated. And while the on-field results have been disappointing (at least by the newly high standards of the fans), the reality is that it had little to do with baseball.

The Ricketts have, intentionally or not, carried out a real-time sociological experiment on the importance of local sports teams relative to other issues. Could a trophy paper over the racism and bigotry of those who delivered it? What was more likely to drive action: a desire to see the team in person, or a fear of indirectly funding the president’s reelection campaign? And just how far can you push a group of people, once you’ve given them everything they wanted?

The loser in all of this is, as it always is, the fan. Just three years removed from the highest of highs, Cubs fans are now grappling with questions as basic as whether their team’s professional baseball games will be televised to ones as profound as when to walk away from something you love.

It is, of course, not fair of ownership to do this to the fans. But then, there has rarely been anything fair about being a Cubs fan. So as we enter the twilight of this team’s championship window, Cubs fans are left to grapple with a question that seemed inconceivable just a few years ago: was it worth it?

The Post–Cold War Order’s Dirty Thirty

It’s been thirty years since the end of the Cold War. How does the post–Cold War world order’s own emotional journey of its childhood and adulthood compare with our own:

1989–1994/96: First 5–7 years great, everything is happy.

1997–1999: At some point between 8 and 10, we lose our innocence for the first time—walking in on parents/realizing you sort of allowed ethnic cleansing to happen in southeastern Europe.

2000–2003: Early teenage years—a lot of questions, awkwardness and growth.

  • If a traumatic event happens during that time period, you might never fully recover from it (parents divorcing, 9/11)

2003–2007: Mid-late teenage years—you start to develop really strong political opinions without realizing that they’re bad political opinions.

  • Patriot Act, The Surge, etc.
  • Reading the Communist Manifesto for the first time

2008–2011: College/Recession—Your financial circumstances worsen significantly due to a predatory economic system. You possibly contract an STD/swine flu.

2011: You graduate college and have a short-lived spurt of hope and optimism/Arab Spring.

2012–2016: Your optimism comes crashing back to earth as you learn to navigate the real world a little bit. Get a job, maybe move to a new city. Save up a little cash. You think you’re starting to figure things out.

2016–2019: Quarter-life crisis. Brexit, Trump, etc. You’re not sure you’re doing anything right, so perhaps you just say “fuck it” and make drastic, systemic changes. You scuttle things that were once really important to you (election integrity). For a brief moment, you reflect on the way you’ve treated women in your past. And suddenly you’re really into foreign films?

2020: You feel a big milestone coming up, so you try to find some minute accomplishment you can achieve so you feel like you’ve done something by 30. You don’t even succeed in doing that.

Headlines We’d Definitely See If Trump Literally Just Tweeted All The Racial Slurs He Knows

Journalists have been at the front lines of countless pitched battles during the Trump administration, bringing light to corruption and transparency to government. But also, they did this

So it’s worth asking: how would they handle their greatest test of all? How would our beloved free press respond if the president tweeted “ATTENTION: I’m gonna tweet out all the racial slurs I know (THREAD 1/)” and then proceeded to do just that? We have some ideas:

  • “In latest racial controversy, backers see Trump exercising free speech” – The New York Times
  • “Barr: Kanye said he could” – The Wall Street Journal
  • “#StandWithTrump trends as thousands tweet racially tinged epithets in solidarity” – The Washington Post
  • “Dems fret free speech controversy puts Massachusetts in play for 2020” – Politico
  • “Racist country’s racist president tweets racist things” – BBC
  • “COURAGE: Pres. Trump takes on corrupt civil rights industry” – Fox News
  • “Obama’s hip hop barbeque STILL didn’t create any jobs” – Fox Nation
  • “I…worked on this story for a year…… and he… he just tweeted it out” – www.krassenblog.woke.com 
  • “Good.” – Breitbart
  • “Undaunted by the Trump supporter we saw on the freeway last week, we bravely condemn Trump’s tweets” – Deadspin
  • “I mean, let’s at least hear him out” – Financial Times editorial board
  • “YASSSS KWEEN: Hillary issues epic clapback, calls on users to report Trump tweets to proper authorities” – www.resistancemamas.blogspot.com
  • “Celtics practice ends six minutes early” – The Boston Globe
  • “Opioids now account for 100% of county deaths” – Youngstown Herald

70 Days in Impeachment Purgatory

The impeachment hearings have been nothing if not dramatic. Marie Yovanovitch quietly admitting she was intimidated when the president attacked her mid-hearing. Alexander Vindman assuring his father that he would be ok, no matter who he testified against. Gordon Sondland going on record to say that there was a quid quo pro, that the president ordered it, and that everyone knew about it.

But a dramatic buildup doesn’t preclude an anticlimax. And isn’t that where we’re heading? Hasn’t that been where we’ve been heading the whole time?

Look, there’s value in impeaching this president. And there is (however small) a possibility that this process could remove him from office. The Senate could vote by secret ballot, Republicans could choose not to run for reelection en masse, the public could swing hard against him even in deep red states. Sure. Why not.

But mainly, it’s symbolic value. This entire process—from the whistleblower report to the secret depositions to the public melodrama playing out on national TV—has been a statement. That there are some sort of consequences for misbehavior, even if you’re rich, white, and the commander-in-chief. That you have to pay some price when you sell out the national interest.

And it may be as little as forcing the president to send his lieutenants in to defend him. It may just be the knowledge that he’s stressed about this, or that he might hesitate (for even half a moment) the next time he’s pleading for a foreign nation to save his election chances. But it is something, and that matters.

But where does that symbolic value leave us? We all know what happens next. Witnesses lay out the case, Republicans claim Ukraine was behind the Kennedy assassination, the House votes to impeach and 53 Senators acquit. There’s no point in stopping the proceedings, but there’s no real, practical purpose in keeping them going.

We are, in other words, in impeachment purgatory.

It’s this strange no-man’s land where every day the evidence gets stronger, and the odds of removal stay the same. The two are unrelated, completely separate entities operating in different planes of existence.

In the first plane, there is a parade of career diplomats coming forward under oath to declare time and again that the president directed an extortion scheme at a U.S. ally for his political gain. In the second plane, there is a parade of senators coming forward to declare that no one knows what happened and it’s impossible to find out—for their own political gain.

To watch the nightly news has become surreal. Each evening some somber news anchor reads out the litany of charges that Executive Branch officials leveled publicly against their boss that day. It feels compelling and compounding, with evidence mounting from every direction. But there is always the unspoken element—that none of it matters—looming off screen.

I guess that’s really what our time in Impeachment Purgatory comes down to: Does any of this matter? Is it worth fighting the good fight, even if you know how it ends? And if not, where do we go from here?