Chicago Or Cleveland: Whose Teams Had More Downs Than Ups? Commentator Frank Deford ponders which city has had the worst luck in sports. It's hard to decide whether Cubs fans or Cleveland fans deserve the most sympathy for their years of cheering on futility.
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Chicago Or Cleveland: Whose Teams Had More Downs Than Ups?

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Chicago Or Cleveland: Whose Teams Had More Downs Than Ups?

Chicago Or Cleveland: Whose Teams Had More Downs Than Ups?

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Well, at least the New York Yankees had all those good years. Commentator Frank Deford considers two cities that did not.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: For those of us in sports who like to wallow in extended misery, this has been one terrific time. The Chicago Cubs hired a popular new manager reminding us again interminably that they have now gone 106 years without winning the championship, eating up 51 managers in the process. I believe only Italian premiers and mosquitoes have a shorter average term of existence.

Meanwhile Cleveland has welcomed LeBron James back to its Cavaliers. So Cleveland is giddy with the possibility of having just one of its woebegone teams win a championship for the first time since 1964. Granted that's a mere half-century, but then Cleveland has three teams that fail all 12 months of the year, plus a National Hockey League franchise, the Barons, that went belly up after two seasons. All together Cleveland fans share a perverse pride that their teams have put together 143 consecutive seasons without a title.

Now, that's a heady history of disaster for Cubby lovers to compete against. On the other hand whereas the Cleveland teams just lose conventionally, the Cubs have learned to be masters of distraction. First they grew enchanting outfield ivy for fans to admire. Then these lovers of Wrigley Field flora put up with the game as they anxiously wait for the Cubs's next clever diversion - its famous seventh inning stretch when people other than players perform, although usually just as ineptly.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Let's go out to the ballgame.

DEFORD: So for us observers with no dog in this fight for ignominy, it's hard to decide who's on worst - whether Cub fans or Cleveland fans deserve the most of our sympathy for their years of cheering on futility. If I were interactive, you could vote, but instead an ensuing thought - primarily I said an ensuing thought to prove that the word ensuing can actually be used in a sentence without modifying the word kickoff. Honestly have you ever once heard ensuing spoken in our language except this time of year before the word kickoff? But my ensuing thought goes in the complete other direction from losing. As soon as the Giants won their third World Series in five seasons, some nincompoops immediately started asking, does that make the Giants a dynasty? What is it about sports that fans are so nuts about dynasties that they're always debating whether such-and-such a team is a dynasty? Not even Stephen Hawking knows what constitutes a sports dynasty, unless of course it is the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland teams which are our dynasties of defeat every ensuing season.

MONTAGNE: Commentator Frank Deford continues his dynasty here every Wednesday. This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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