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One tuned to the National League playoff game in which the Chicago Cubs ultimately beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, placing themselves one win away from their first league championship in 71 years.
THE OTHER SET was tuned to Thursday Night Football – whose broadcast this week was the usual Chicago sporting favorite, the Bears, takin on their arch-rivals, the Green Bay Packers.
Usually, that’s a game that gets sports-oriented people in Chicago to wet their drawers with glee and excitement. It stirs up a lot of rhetoric, regardless of how either team is playing.
Simply put, the fact that the Bears have won only one game this season shouldn’t have put a damper on the event. But it did.
The television ratings that came in for Thursday night showed the Cubs broadcast in Chicago getting a 24.1 share, which translates roughly to 1 million people in the metropolitan area actually watching the ballgame.
BY COMPARISON, THE Bears only got a 12.8 share, or just over half of what the Cubs managed to attract.
So much for the notion that Chicago is primarily a football town and that it is the Bears who are the team that manages to bring the city together as a whole in spirit.
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Although I have always thought that Chicago is primarily a baseball town and that a local fan’s baseball preference is always stronger than what he feels for the Bears. Only with the baseball fandom split between two ball clubs, it means the Bears can claim a larger audience than either team. Which makes me wonder what things would be like if the Cardinals had never left town and remained a charter member of the NFL on the South Side?
Former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who has made his efforts to stay in the public eye by latching onto Cubs attention and publicly rooting for the team to make it to the World Series next week, has said he thinks a Cubs World Series title would be bigger than the ’85 Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl victory.
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Not that any of this detracts from what the Bears accomplished 31 years ago by becoming the first Chicago team in decades to win a thing.
If anything, what with the Bears, the Bulls, the Blackhawks and White Sox all having won championships within our lifetimes, it probably is about time that the Cubs get off their duffs and win something – just so we can quit thinking there’s anything particularly special about them.
It’s about time that the Cubs win something so we can put a rest to those out-of-town types who denigrate the Chicago sporting experience – largely by claiming there can’t be anything special about a city that takes a team with the Cubs’ losing ways at all seriously.
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ALTHOUGH ONE CAN argue that the new Cubs management has already succeeded in that they have put together a ball club that will likely be a legitimate contender for the rest of this decade. Even if the Dodgers manage to prevail this weekend, the Cubs probably will be in the running for a championship come 2017.
There’s also the fact that even if the Cubs were to win a thing (and I don’t doubt there are many Chicagoans who dread the very concept), all it would really mean is that the Cubs will finally have matched the White Sox in championships achieved during this century.