Fans are never satisfied, and that’s not a bad thing

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CHICAGO – The tortured expressions were priceless, really. This was at a saloon called Sluggers, which is right across the street from Wrigley Field. The home team was out of town, there was a concert just letting out at the famous ballpark, so the Cubs were on every television in the bar.

They were winning.

But, apparently, they weren’t winning by enough. And seeing those tortured expressions – and eavesdropping on some even more tortured observations and conversations – was truly priceless.

“This [stuff] gets old,” said one.

“Same old ridiculous Cubs,” said another.

“And here come the [gosh-darn] Cardinals,” said a third.

As a stranger in a strange land, I held my tongue because who am I to remind these Cubby-loving Old Style slurpers that, you know, the Cubs are still in first place, despite seeming only half-interested most of the year.

And, oh yeah:

THEY WON THE WORLD SERIES LAST YEAR!!!

It was in all the papers.

Except … oh, come on, we see a little bit – or a lotta bit – of ourselves in them, don’t we? There is that famous sign, unfurled at the end of the Rangers-Canucks Stanley Cup Finals game in 1994, a slogan borrowed by Red Sox fans in 2004 and White Sox fans in ’05 and Cubs fans last year: “Now I Can Die In Peace.”

It’s a neat sentiment.

And in almost all cases, a total crock.

Yankees fans always get the most heat for this kind of behavior, because those who aren’t Yankees fans simply can’t grasp what fans of a team with 27 championships to their credit – five in the last 21 years – could possibly have to complain about. And yet complain they do – about the manager, about the GM, about how the stars and the fates and the gods are all lined up against them.

(One of my favorite Twitter feeds belongs to one of my favorite actors, Nick Turturro [@NickTurturro1] which, mostly, is an anguished real-time account of his passion for and devotion to the Yankees. Check it out sometime. Then think about what it would be like if he were a fan of, say, the Indians. Or the Padres. It never fails to make me smile.)

Of course, the Yankees aren’t alone. Being a sports fan, in some ways, is a much safer, much more benign version of the time-honored story of the soldier stuck in his foxhole, shells blasting all around him, who pledges to God: “Get me out of here, get me home, and I swear I’ll become a priest!” Except then he does get out of there, does get home, and realizes … um …

In the heat of a pennant race, in the teeth of a playoff game, a fan is likely to make all kind of bargains with the invisible judges and juries who decide such outcome. Mostly, the song goes like this: “Just let me have this ONE time, I swear to God I’ll never want another coach fired, another player traded, I’ll never, ever, EVER complain again, about anything …”

Except then your team wins it all ….

And it just isn’t the same without the angst. I made a bet with a colleague how long it would take in the 2012 season – the year after the Giants won their second Super Bowl in four years – before one of us would get an e-mail demanding Tom Coughlin be fired. My friend, far less cynical, set eight games as the target. I picked four. 

Correct answer: one.

But that’s OK, honestly. That’s what fans do. That’s what we are. We are irrational and unreasonable and altogether blotto when it comes to our teams. Recently I had a dialogue with a Mets fan who was beside himself with fury about Sandy Alderson, demanding, “What the hell has he done here?”

I somewhat cautiously reminded him the Mets were still less than two years removed from the World Series.

“Besides that!” he said.

So yes: I laughed at those Cubs fans in Sluggers, and I listened some more, and as the good guys pulled away for an easy win I saw relief on faces and happiness in hearts. All of it more temporary than a flimsy camping tent. Sports is awesome.

Vac’s Whacks

Jason Bateman, the star of ‘Ozark’Storms Media Group

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong, and I was all wrong about Jay Bruce, who not only proved he could play and produce in New York but in many ways became the quintessential New York athlete — accountable, quotable, reliable. It would be terrific if he found his way back here sometime, either end of the Triboro.


I guess the Nets are our revenge for Montezuma’s Revenge?


Small sample size for me so far, but I like just about everything about “Ozark” on Netflix.


He’s having a tricky time with the bat so far (Friday notwith-standing but when Mets pitchers see Amed Rosario’s work at shortstop they have to wonder how many runs he could’ve saved them in June and July.

Whack Back at Vac

John A. Bennett: Baseball is the only one of the four major professional sports where history and tradition really matter. The Yankees have the richest tradition of all. They mess with that at their peril.

Ron Perri: Call me old-fashioned but the Yankees in these ridiculous uniforms reminds me of the White Sox in short pants.

Vac: I like tradition as much as the next guy, but this is baseball, not church. I just don’t think these one-shot jerseys are going to deconsecrate the sport. Maybe that makes me a bad purist.


Guy Miller: Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner: How long before Nolan Ryan comes out of retirement to toss a no-no against the Mets?
Vac: I’d believe anything at this point, wouldn’t you?


@voxnomo: In my opinion, no response at all from Brandon Marshall is the response that most diminishes Sheldon Richardson. Just ignore him.
@MikeVacc: It must be killing Richardson, too.


Robb Austin: The only thing I’m sorry about for you is that at 7 years of age in 1973 you missed many, many great Notre Dame seasons and games under Ara. Coming off the Kuharich and Devore years, the Era of Ara was magical.
Vac: I feel the same exact way about just missing the great Knicks teams of the early ’70s.





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