The Troubles of Cub Fans

By - Adam Blake

The Chicago Cubs have been the laughing stock of professional sports for longer than any other franchise in America's history. They have not won a World Series in over a century and yet they still have one of, if not the most loyal followings in sports. Fans have stuck by the Cubs for over a century through nothing but devastation and frustration, yet one man's passion stands out above the rest.

Steve Goodman who still leads the cheers at Wrigley Field more than 25 years after his untimely death. Goodman has two songs that put into words the emotions of Cubs fans everywhere. "Go Cubs Go" and "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" embody the mixed emotions that plague Cub Fans. "Go Cubs Go" shows the fans' pride and joy in the team, while "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" captures the pain and frustration that fans who put their hearts in the team receive from the "lovable losers."

"A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" was written by Steve Goodman in 1981 while he was battling leukemia, which the public did not know about. The song is sort of a musical will, and is set as an old Cub fan lying in his deathbed with a Cubs hat on. The old man is a symbol of Goodman who was living on borrowed time. In his last request Goodman questions whether the Cubs were worthy of his love, even going as far as accusing the Cubs of stealing his youth and driving him to drink. He calls Wrigley Field an "ivy covered burial ground" and goes on to express his "last request" as his ideal Wrigley Field Funeral. He wants a "double header funeral" and an organ playing not church songs, but the National Anthem.

The Troubles of Cub Fans - A Chicago Cubs fan cheers
A Chicago Cubs fan cheers with a card board sign during game action, as the Cubs rallied from behind to defeat the Brewers in game 3 of a 3 game series by the score of 7-6 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL.

He wants six bullpen pitchers to carry him around the bases and in traditional cubby fashion have an umpire bark him out at every base. For the big finale to his funeral he wants his coffin thrown into a fire at home plate, so that his ashes will blow over the Cub players' heads onto Waveland Avenue. Then with the great sense of humor that Cub fans must develop he jokes of pitying his friends who are stuck with the Cubs while he now has season tickets for the Angels. Goodman never lived to see the Cubs in the playoffs as he died on September 20, 1984, just 11 days before he was set to sing the national anthem for the first Cubs playoff game since 1945. However, he did get his "ivy covered burial ground" as part of his ashes were buried beneath home plate.

His second infamous Cub's song, "Go Cubs Go" was written a short time after while the Cubs were on track for the playoffs, and is very much a polar opposite of "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" as it is an anthem to the greatness of the Cubs. "Go Cubs Go" was written and performed by Goodman for WGN Radio Station, the official radio station of the Chicago Cubs, in an effort to raise team spirit. It was also meant to change the stigma that the Cubs are the "lovable losers. He starts the song with, "Baseball season's underway, you better get ready for a brand new day."

This is trying to put into perspective that the past is gone and each new season is a new opportunity for the Cubs to make it. Also, in this song he references the Cubs having what it takes to "be the best in the National League" as opposed to being the "doormat of the national league" as he calls them in "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request." "Go Cubs Go" is a testimony to the passion that Cub fans have despite a lack of results that would justify giving your youth or worries to something that ultimately has always let people down.

The Troubles of Cub Fans - Chicago Cub fans display signage
Chicago Cub fans display signage during a break in the action at Wrigley Field. In a must win situation, the Chicago Cubs played a remarkable big-league ball game to defeat the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 3 to 2 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

Steve Goodman died too young, but he was the cheerful voice that to this day reminds us not to give up on anything, and to enjoy what little time we have. He put his heart into a team that he had never seen even go to the playoffs let alone the World Series. The Cubs eventually fell one game short of the World Series, when they blew a two game lead to the Padres in the NLCS. Goodman was constantly on the field and in the club house, and some of the 1984 team even sang the refrain in "Go Cubs Go." One can not help but wonder if "Cool Hand Leuk," a nickname he gave himself, would have made a difference in 1984.

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