Waterfalls have stopped falling, the sun rose in the south and pigs are taking to the air. The world is no longer recognizable. Why do I say that? Because the Chicago Cubs are the best baseball team on earth, and the St. Louis Cardinals are watching the postseason from their Barcaloungers.
It's not natural, it's not explainable and, in my mind, it's not welcome. Despite living for the past 36 years in the Chicago area, despite working for a company that once owned the Cubs and despite being surrounded by Cubs fans, I just can't root for them -- or the White Sox, either.
Yes, I've been here most of my adult life, but I grew up in Texas, and I never took to certain local customs -- pickles on hot dogs, using furniture to save parking spaces, jumping into Lake Michigan in the winter and clownish baseball.
Instead, for reasons too complicated to explain, I have an allegiance to the Cardinals passionate enough to make my wife occasionally worry that I might leave her for Adam Wainwright. (Probably not.) I have more red in my wardrobe than Santa Claus.
Normally, this is the time of year that St. Louis fans lay in supplies of Budweiser, chips and remote control batteries in preparation for a long playoff run. My team has made the playoffs the past five seasons in a row and nine of the past 12. True Cardinals fans do not schedule weddings in October, or even funerals.
Cubs fans, by contrast, are usually free about now to seek out fall foliage, read "War and Peace" or check in to the Betty Ford Center -- all the while trying to avoid contact with Cardinal friends.
Their embarrassment is understandable. The Cubs, after all, last won a World Series 108 years ago. During that period, the Cards have won 11, including two in the past decade.
That's not the only way in which the Cardinals excel. They have a beautiful modern stadium, while the Cubs inhabit a 15th-century structure ingeniously designed so that half the seats are behind pillars. The Cardinals have The Best Fans in Baseball, as certified by the Nobel Committee. Wrigley Field patrons are famous for ignoring the game, working on their tans, flirting with the opposite sex and endangering Cubs outfielders by throwing back balls that opponents blast over the fence.
But this season was different. The Cubs seized the Central Division lead in April and never let go, winning 103 games. The Cardinals finished second, 340 miles back, and didn't even qualify for the wild-card game.
The Redbirds played like -- well, like the Cubs of old. The St. Louis pitchers were erratic, except the ones who were invariably bad. The fielders handled every ground ball as though it had fangs. The base running was pure slapstick.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, catering to a sudden local outbreak of masochism, recently posed the question, "How many Cardinals could start for the Cubs?" The answer: maybe just one.
That stings. The whole season stung. But it gives us Cardinals fans a chance to exercise a magnanimity we rarely get to display, lending support to a fellow Midwestern team that has been a synonym for vain hopes and endless futility. So let me stipulate that I truly hope to see the Cubs win the World Series.
No, I haven't been charmed by their quirky manager. No, I haven't been taken with the team's youthful exuberance. No, I'm not caught up in the romance of the Cubs' fabled century-long quest, which got tedious after the first 1,000 times I had to hear about it.
But a Cubs World Series victory would warm the hearts of most of the nearly 10 million people who live around here. It would elicit smiles from my surliest co-workers. It would enhance the happiness of my three kids, whose loyalty to the Cubs is not my fault. And it would give the team's followers something no living Cubs fan has known: a taste of what it's like to be a Cardinals fan.
So I hope the Cubs bring home a championship and finally bury the Curse of the Billy Goat. I hope they take all the Champagne showers previous teams tragically missed. I hope the city has a celebration that Chicago will never forget.
Then I hope they go on to win another World Series -- 108 years from now.
Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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