Brace yourself, sports fans. National publications will this week surely be trotting out previews of the Cubs long-awaited playoff run, and I can't help but expect these write-ups to seem a little, well, familiar.
Haven't won a World Series since 1908 … check. The Curse of the Billy Goat … check. Steve Bartman … check.
We've heard it all before. So for those of you scoring at home, here's a bingo card of Cubs clichés and well-trod milestones to keep handy as you take in this month's media barrage. (Yes, I realize that the bingo card is itself a cliché.) See below for how some recent stories have scored, and feel free to rate the various Fox Sports broadcasters whose inanities we’ll be enduring over the next few weeks.
To get you started, I've scored a few early entries to the canon.
“Next Year Is This Year, Long-suffering Cubs Fans Proclaim”
Andrew Ryan, Boston Globe
Ryan heroically avoids mentioning either the Billy Goat or Steve Bartman, but instead he goes for some deep cuts, including opening with a 89-year-old Cubs fan and a passing reference to the bleacher bums of yore. (With bleacher tickets topping out at $65, it’s been more than 30 years since the bleachers have been a halcyon refuge for the lazy and unemployed.)
Overall grade: C+
“The Most Pleasing Campaign of 2016”
David Axelrod, The New Yorker
It was the fourth paragraph of this essay that inspired this silly endeavor. In it, Axelrod covers all the bases: the 108-year drought, the tiresome tale of Billy Sianis’s goat, and our poor, misunderstood friend in Aisle 4, Row 8. Happily enough, Axe recovers and takes us on a detailed journey through the the past few years of rebuilding. Even foul-weather fans will learn a few things here.
Overall grade: B+
“Chicago Cubs and the Last Days of Old, Weird Wrigleyville”
Jason Diamond, Rolling Stone
We have a bingo! Rolling Stone touches them all, from curse to Caray to Bartman as easily as Tinker to Evers to Chance. And yet, this is one of the most satisfying and original Cubs-related things I've read all season. Despite making so many of the obligatory references, Diamond faithfully evokes the Wrigleyville of an underrated era, that of the '80s and '90s. Anyone who has ever lined up for a show at Metro or bought boots from Belmont Army Surplus will appreciate his memorial for a once colorful and quirky neighborhood now overtaken by yoga studios, Big Ten bars, and luxury condos.
Overall grade: A