I don’t usually deal in hyperbole, but THIS IS THE GREATEST, MOST HILARIOUS STORY EVER!
ESPN.com is reporting that more money has been bet on the Cubs to win the World Series this season than on any other team, at least at two of Nevada’s biggest sports books.
Winning the World Series?
Are you kidding me?
It’s safe to assume that the people throwing money at the Cubs aren’t professional bettors. It’s even safer to assume they are professional Cubs fans, full of hope and their children’s college tuition money.
How did we get here? How does one go from five straight fifth-place finishes to such heavenly visions? This isn’t putting your money where your mouth is. This is putting your money where your mental illness is.
Whoever in Las Vegas set the odds at 6-1 for the Cubs to win it all is a genius. It plays right into Cubs fans’ wildest dream, a dream that has almost no chance of happening this season. But tell your more ardent follower of this franchise that there is a chance, and he or she slaps down money on the possibility of a Cubs championship parade. Tell him or her the chance is a decent one and watch the disposable income go down the disposal.
“Every year, they bet the Cubs,” Jeff Stoneback, assistant manager at MGM race and sports, told ESPN.com. “I could be their ace and you could be their No. 2 starter, and they’d still bet them.”
A real tug of war is going on between the more outwardly sober Cubs fan and the slobbery version who wants to plant wet kisses on president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. One side doesn’t think this is The Year, though it secretly holds out hope that Kris Bryant will hit a game-winning grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series. The other side, men and women alike, wants to carry Epstein’s baby to term.
By the way, remember when everyone wanted to be Phil Jackson? He’s getting killed now in New York for overseeing a disaster of a Knicks team. Epstein, meanwhile, has convinced Cubs fans through a combined 86 games under .500 the past three seasons that he sees greatness ahead. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Cubs fans are ready to win. They were ready to win 100 years ago. But that doesn’t explain the cannabis cloud of hope that has settled over Wrigley Field and beyond this year. There are reasons to hope, though there are just as many unknowns.
There’s Jon Lester and Joe Maddon. But there’s also all that young, unproven talent. The ado seems a little outsized, even for Cubs fans caught up in Opening Day foreplay.
Could a championship happen this season? In the way a singing cow could happen. The construction mess that is Wrigley Field might end up serving as a metaphor for the young Cubs: not ready yet. Next year? Who knows?
I don’t know what happened to skepticism. Cubs fans were always a hopeful bunch, but deep down they knew better. There was a reason they talked about next year – they were pretty sure this year was going to be like all the other this years that had preceded it. Hope has been replaced by certainty, and it looks odd on Cubs fans. The betting silliness aside, the giddiness about the immediate future feels like a premature touchdown celebration. You’d like to tell the more enthusiastic followers to act like they’ve been there before. Then you realize they haven’t been there before and you give them a pass.
I’ve heard Cubs fans dismiss those who bet money on a North Side World Series as “stupid.’’ Well, there’s apparently a lot of stupid out there. ESPN.com reports that the number of bets on the Cubs at one sports book is more than double any other team.
That’s not belief. That’s beyond belief.
People have said that the end of the world will surely be upon us if the Cubs win a World Series. I remain of the belief that the end of the world will occur with the Cubs one out away from winning their first title since 1908. But that’s just me, a weary soul who has seen too much from this franchise, none of which had anything to do with a World Series championship.
Some of you are insistent that the Cubs are going to win it all this year.
To which the more clear-eyed among us repeat: Wanna bet?