NOT ALL MLB THE TEAMS, however, showed themselves possessed of a political consciousness. The New York Yankees (an establishment franchise, if there ever was one, from whom, quite frankly, I expect nothing, given their historic opposition to baseball integration in the pre-Jackie Robinson era and for years after), the Atlanta Braves (whose very name rankles; a team whose fans until recently still practiced the “tomahawk chop”), the St. Louis Cardinals (the franchise who exhibited the worst kind of racism to Jackie Robinson in the 1940s and ’50s) just kept going, business as usual.
The Chicago Cubs, however, were especially disappointing.
One of their leaders, the African American outfielder, Jason Heyward, was left isolated by his teammates. When the Cubs so memorably won the World Series in 2016, it was Heyward who, during a rain delay in Game 7, the deciding game, gathered his teammates around him under the stands and rallied them to victory. On Valentine’s Day 2018, when a gunman opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, a Stoneman Douglas graduate, commendably, spoke in support of ending gun violence.1 Not so here. Heyward was left to his own resources. Loyalty to clubhouse leaders has its limits. And that limit is clearly marked: race. That is where solidarity ends for the Cubs in relation to Heyward. In this moment that old truism about Chicago’s baseball divide rang true. The Sox, from the South Side, second stringers in their own city, feisty and combative, are the team that represents the city’s racial minorities and white ethnics; the North Side’s Cubbies, on the other hand, showed themselves to be the team of white suburbia.
A bitter pill for you to swallow, my son. Your maternal grandparents, mother, and brother are all lifelong Cubbie fans, and I know how difficult this is for them. “Hey Chicago, what do you say?”
Under these circumstances it is best to negate what the Cubbies faithful sing after a victory in Wrigleyville: Happy, jaunty renditions of “Go Cubs, Go Cubs, Go,” can be heard along Waveland Avenue after a Cubs win. However much I try, “Don’t Go Cubs, Don’t Go,” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. In fact, rendered this way, it sounds silly, doesn’t it? But maybe we can ask, “Hey, Chicago, what do you say?”
Still and all, I won’t impose the Mets on you, son.