Lovable Losers

The Chicago Cubs 1908–2015

In the hazy birth records
of the Arkansas of Europe
my Bubbie’s birth scrawled in Yiddish,
as eight days past a minor Jewish holiday
and not the week before the Cubs
most recent World Series victory, fall 1908.
Ten years since Bartman cursed his
Cubs right out of their first shot
at the National League pennant
a since-1908 champless existence.
Bartman won’t take your calls,
or any major network news organ.
But the Sun-Times published his every address
to find fans awaiting him lunch hour and bath.
To become unfamous
on Chicago’s north side when you
deflect the ball out of Moises
Alou’s waiting glove is a challenge.
We are assured—Cubs fan
Bartman’s healthy, employed,
still in Chicagoland.
Twenty years before Penicillin’s discovery
and two before the bra’s invention
the Cubs last won the Series. When
the NFL, NBA, and NHL didn’t exist.
My Bubbie a baby
hadn’t heard of America
where she’d later give birth,
or Chicago, place of her brother’s future
suicide—more camp trauma
than Cubs letdown.
Bartman holds no vendetta against Alou
despite his motherfucker hollers aimed to stands.                      
It was never Bartman’s fault, you can’t
make a double play from your seat.
Moises, you can’t tell
a little league coach not to reach for
a major league ball aimed at your heart.

Copyright © 2018 by Rachel M. Simon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I'm a big fan of the underdog—I come from a family of Cleveland sports fanatics and, with the notable exception of the LeBron years, we are used to being losers. ‘Lovable Losers' is from an almost-complete manuscript of sports poems that explore issues of social justice and gender through the lens of sport. In this poem, I was trying to contextualize the one hundred and eight years between their championships and to make that amount of time comprehensible and accessible for a reader, regardless of how they feel about baseball.”
—Rachel M. Simon