An Open Letter to Indians Fans, From a Diehard Cubs Fan

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Dear Indians faithful,

When I, a diehard Cubs fan, took on the Tribe as my American League team 8 years ago, I never fathomed we’d be here, on the other side of the best World Series that this country has ever seen. In fact, I told someone, “The world will end before the Cubs and Indians play in a World Series, so really I’ve done the most responsible thing I could in choosing two teams who will never face each other in a high stakes game.”

And yet here we are, and I have so many things I’m working through and trying to process. My emotions for the Indians are just some of them.

But while the last 7 games and their outcome have me completely unhinged, I know a few things with total certainty.

We’re a lot alike, Cleveland and Chicago. Our baseball teams proved that this past week – talk about two immensely talented teams! Talk about grit! Talk about fighting back when you’re down! The Cubs did it, down 3 games to 1. The Indians did it, down 4 runs in Game 7. When you look at the aggregate runs scored this series, it’s tied up at 27-all, and I think every Cubs fan is well aware that one crack of the bat means the outcome is flipped. It truly was one for the ages.

Then there are our fanbases. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Because the worst is all we’ve known for so long. And yet, every year, April rolls around and our eyes fill with hope and we know without one shred of doubt that THIS is our year, even when it isn’t. Even when it hasn’t been for decades, or centuries. These fanbases are loyal. They stand by their teams come hell or high water. We don’t run when things get hard. We don’t abandon ship in rebuilding years. We plant our feet firmly in the ground and say “This is my city, this is my team, and JUST YOU WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR.” We’ve all uttered those words, hands planted firmly on our hips in indignation. These are fan bases who thank a team who’s just broken our hearts because they took us on a fun ride up to this point. And even when our hearts are broken, the spring rains wash out the doubt, and we return with a hope renewed, our faith as fresh as the new paint adorning the outfield grass.

And then there are our cities as a whole – rust belt beauties, built on the backs of those who came before us. They are cities that know what it means to work hard, cities that share the same values, cities that live with the same self-deprecating humor, coupled with our always immense and unmatchable pride. Our cities are like our families – we can talk a lot of shit about them, but the second an outsider does, someone’s getting a black eye. We also both share the misery of Lake Effect Snow, and most of America will never really understand this plight.

And given the connection I’ve always felt to the city of Cleveland, given how much I’ve always seen a little bit of Chicago reflected in the Terminal Tower lights, there are a few things I know to be true after last night’s game, things I needed to share with you after the best World Series ever:

1. Cleveland is proud – As one should be when a roster has some key players out and you STILL take the statistically best team in baseball all the way to the brink, Cleveland is BEAMING with pride. I said this about Chicago after our Game 4 loss, and I say it to you now – win or lose, you are from Cleveland. Put your hand on your heart, feel it beating in your chest, feel yourself so full you could burst with the pride you have for where you came from. Think of how it shaped you into the person you’re becoming. Embrace it all. Smile. Wear it as the badge of honor it is. I know you will – you always do.
2. Cleveland is resilient – The way you fought back in Game 7, the way you clawed through the Warriors in the NBA finals this year, the way each of you has, in some way in your personal life, pushed through the seemingly impossible? That’s the Clevelander in you. You will bounce back stronger than ever. Your time will come. Your year will be here before you know it – hell, maybe it’s even next year for real. I’ve seen your roster – you’re coming back with a vengeance. And if it’s not, you’ll hold your heads high then too, just as you’re doing now – knowing every ounce of your fight was given, knowing that this, too, shall pass. Someday, the rain will fall and the drought will end, and until then, my dear Cleveland, you’ll rise up.
3. I know some Cubs fans have been talking shit to you guys – I apologize for them. Those are NOT our diehards. Those are NOT the fans whose fathers’ fathers grew up at Wrigley. Those are the bandwagon fans. They annoy us too. They deserve a swift kick in the shins. I PROMISE you true Cubs fans look at you guys with a tip of the hat and massive amounts of respect in our hearts. We salute you for the way you played baseball. We salute you for your loyalty to this team. We salute you for sticking with the Tribe and for still rallying together 68 years later. We crack open a Bud for you. We defend you. Anyone who speaks otherwise does not speak for me and mine and can pack their bags.
4. Cleveland fans showed so much heart – LOOK AT THIS TEAM, YOU GUYS! LOOK AT HOW FAR YOU WENT. LOOK AT THE ODDS YOU OVERCAME! Those players, immense talent aside, are feeding off YOU GUYS – the fans! Your heart fueled them through a grinding postseason as much as their tremendous hard work and abilities. I salute you all, cause that makes me feel things!
5. Baseball isn’t just about the game for you. Us either. It’s about generations of families coming together around the TV to watch. It’s about stories passed down from grandparents and parents. It’s about the loved ones we’ve lost and how much they would have LOVED to see a game like last night’s. It’s about friends. It’s about memories made in and around the ballpark, memories made rallying together around the team. This is so much more than baseball. This is in our blood.

Cleveland, from a loyal Cubs fan, hat’s off to you. Thanks for making the last seven games an incredible rollercoaster of emotions and for making history with us. As Joe Maddon was quoted saying after the game, “Sometimes people forget that both sides are good.” But you know what, Cleveland? You put up the fight of your life, and there is NO denying that you, too, are good. This game will be shared with our children and their children for generations to come, and the incredible baseball played on the Cleveland side is just as much a part of the narrative. Just remember, when the fans go home and the field lights go dark, when the Chicago Cubs fans have finally stopped celebrating, you are STILL. FROM. CLEVELAND. And with that, you can rest easy, full of hometown pride, knowing that your day is coming & it will be every bit as glorious as you’ve imagined. Because no one throws a party quite like a team that finally gets some rain after a long drought (whether that’s actual rain or just a shower of champagne is irrelevant) and no one knows that better than these two fanbases.

See you next season – Game 7, our place?

Much love and respect,
Jami

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150 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Indians Fans, From a Diehard Cubs Fan

  1. Screw this post, you had one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, we had to actually earn a championship, you bought yours so congratulations. I hate that you Chicago fans that think you suffered, you had 6 NBA championships, you had a super bowl in 1985, the white sox won in 2005, the blackhawks win a Stanley cup every other year, so no you have not suffered. You only wrote this because you won. If you had lost you would be doing what I am right now.

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    1. As a Clevelander, I ask you chill, Mike. I feel like this post was honest and positive – why not let that be? I appreciated it. While we Clevelanders have the right to feel bummed about our World Series loss, I think the “screw this post” thing is a little out of line. Show the author that we can lose with grace, and keep it classy. Just a thought.

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    2. That just shows your a sore loser. I feel exactly the same way Jami does and I’m a die hard Cubs fan. I’m not talking shit about the Indians. It was hands down the best baseball I have watched in years. No reason to hang your heads. You guys will be good for many years to come.

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    3. No, we grew our team. These were kids, most of the starters were first and second year players. The rest were veterans brought in to show the kids the ropes. Stop being bitter. Your team was excellent and brought you to the brink as well. It just as easily could have been yours. It wasn’t. And don’t equate a white Sox championship with a Cubs championship. It does not equate. A white sox championship is the same to a cubs fan as a Cardinals or pirates or yes, an Indians championship. In Chicago, you are either/or, generally not both, so yes, cubs fans HAVE suffered for 108 years, no less hurtful than the 68 years your team has suffered through.

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    4. No, Mike, we grew our team. These were kids, most of the starters were first and second year players. The rest were veterans brought in to show the kids the ropes. Stop being bitter. Your team was excellent and brought you to the brink as well. It just as easily could have been yours. It wasn’t. And don’t equate a white Sox championship with a Cubs championship. It does not equate. A white sox championship is the same to a cubs fan as a Cardinals or pirates or yes, an Indians championship. In Chicago, you are either/or, generally not both, so yes, cubs fans HAVE suffered for 108 years, no less hurtful than the 68 years your team has suffered through.

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    5. Acting like a spoiled, spiteful child? Somehow I doubt that. Way to completely miss the point of this post. Are you forgetting how long it’s been since the Cubs have had any real success? This isn’t about hockey or basketball or football, and the OP wasn’t talking about being a White Sox fan, either. She was displaying some of what good sportsmanship is supposed to be all about, unlike what you wrote. You’re totally entitled to your own opinion, but fix the attitude, man. We’re all just here for some good baseball.

      Signed,
      A Cardinals fan who never thought I’d be cheering for the Cubs

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    6. No guarantee the Indians are back. They said that after the Indians blew a 3-1 lead in 2007 to the Red Sox. “Oh, don’t worry, you guys will be back, nomnomnom lemme gobble up this championship.” Aaaaaand…the next year the Tribe sucked, traded Sabathia, and haven’t been good since with the exception of a wildcard game shutout in 2013. Yech.

      It’s small market baseball. You strike while the iron is hot. The Indians almost came up gold. Instead, they came up losers, and for all I know as a lifelong diehard Tribe fan…it could be the last time I see them in the playoffs for yet another decade.

      So, enjoy the victory Cubs fans. Your team earned it, and you guys have waited long enough. And yes, I got my NBA title in June. Soak it up. I even recognize the good intentions behind this letter. But don’t sit here with some kind of faux pity like the Indians will have a bunch more chances like this to win the ‘ship in the immediate future. It’s likely they won’t. But don’t worry, the Cubs will.

      Signing off,

      A disappointed, bitter Indians fan

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      1. I hear what you’re saying, but just to be clear, it wasn’t “faux pity” as you put it. I have a Grady Sizemore jersey hanging in my closet and a Tribe hat right next to my Cubs one. For as excited as I was to see my team win (Finally!), I was equal parts bummed for Cleveland. Many of my favorite memories from college were spent at Indians games or at the Thirsty Parrot next door, and there was nothing faux about me feeling conflicted in this Series.

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      2. I guess that part was more meant for all the Cubs fans trying to be reassuring that, “You’ll be back next year and for years to come!” when it just isn’t true. At all. So either they are ignorant of the struggles of small market baseball, or worse, they know it isn’t true and are saying it anyways.

        If the Tribe is lucky, they’ll contend for one more year before it starts crumbling. The Cubs payroll isn’t ludicrous like NY or Boston, but it’s high enough that they can afford to keep all of their talent and not have to rebuild every 3 years. Kudos to them. They were Goliath; the Indians, David. Goliath won. And yes, I’m bitter AF over having to watch the Indians blow a 3-1 lead the last two times they made the freaking playoffs. Sue me. I’m not going to insult anybody over it but I’m also not going to pretend I’m cool with it and we’ll “get em’ next year!”

        Again, grats on the parade. For us, it’s a long, cold winter (well, I’m in Florida but, you get the metaphor).

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  2. I am a long time Cleveland fan who really enjoyed that letter. A lot of us did not want to play the Cubs because we really wanted the Cubs to finally win it. I believe that a lot N.E. Ohioans felt this way. We can sympathize with Chicago. Glad your city won, but too bad against us. We will be back no doubt as you said. We have a great city here that outsiders that put us down have obviously never been here. Thanks for the nice letter, your a credit to your city! Cheers!

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    1. Thank you so much for speaking out! My thoughts during all 7 games were about how evenly matched the Cubs and Indians were throughout the game! So glad I was able to see the whole World Srries!

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  3. Thank you Jami! Your thoughts and words are thoughtful & beautiful. Amazing world series….amazing teams! Congrats to both! Although I was sad to see the Indians lose,
    I am happy it was the Cubs we lost to! Enjoy being the champions! Never have the
    World Series been so exciting! See you next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A gracious thank you from a lifelong Indians fan for writing down and posting exactly what I was thinking. My hat is off to the Indians and the Cubs. It is all about city/region. I now live and work in Cleveland. I came from small town NE Ohio. My Cleveland comeback story is notable. I had broken my lower leg, went through 3 years of infection and failure to heal. Local doctors could not fix it, Pittsburgh doctors could not fix it. The first doctor I saw in Cleveland could not fix it….time to amputate…until a 2nd doctor from Cleveland said…we can try harder…HE FIXED IT. I bring this up because it was in 1997 while I was beginning a Cleveland comeback in the Burn Unit of Cleveland MetroHealth Hospital. (burn unit for skin graft, not burns) I could look out my window while I was watching TV. On the TV was the Tribe and Marlins in the World series at Jacobs Field. Out my window I could see that same Jacobs Field. It was the beginning of my Cleveland comeback…it took another year, but today the two legs I walk on are my own…thanks to the grit and attitude of a Cleveland Doctor. I have no doubt the Indians have the same grit. Hats off to the Cubs, Indians, and most of all the people who believe no matter what.

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    1. What an amazing story, Gary! So glad you had a successful recovery – no doubt that Midwestern grit and resilience played a huge role in that. I’m so moved by the personal stories people are sharing about their ties to the team (as all true fans have with their respective team) – yours is particularly inspiring.

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  5. Thank you for this. You brought tears to my eyes. I worked in The Terrace Club at Jacob’s Field (now Progressive Field) from 1995-2002 and saw every home game for those 7 years…including the incredibly heartbreaking 1997 loss in the 11th inning of game 7. I am now living in Southern California and the past week and a half has been bizarre, seemingly surrounded by Cubs fans everywhere I went, including my fellow teachers at the high school where I teach. The day of this game 7, I went to school wearing my Jim Thome socks (knee-high and bright red), my Indians jersey, and my old Tribe tie from my Terrace Club uniform. I am an Art teacher, so that day when I demonstrated how to draw buildings in one-point perspective, I drew huge letters on the buildings that spelled out “Cleveland Indians.” When school ended that day, I wished the Chicago-native teacher across the hall good luck and he wished me the same – and we both winked and said to each other “but I hope you lose, haha.” That night was like an exercise in how to manage manic depression – one inning feeling depressed, the next absolute mania and convinced we’d win. When we ultimately lost, I was ok with it because we had fought SO HARD, and the Cubs had fought right back and beat us in an incredible game. The best baseball game I’ve ever seen.
    The next morning, I immersed myself into my work and teaching my students so I could stay distracted and not think about my heartache. Then suddenly I heard a group of students gathering in the hallway, who burst into loud celebratory song about the Cubs’ victory (their teacher had taught them the song and told them to gather in the hallway outside my classroom to taunt me). It was very upsetting and I had to choke back tears.
    I had assumed it was organized by the teacher who I had spoken with the previous day, and I was shocked by the rudeness. I found out later that day that it was complete coincidence – a teacher from another building who was a Cubs fan, had arranged the student serenade to taunt another teacher in my hallway as a friendly joke between the two. Neither of them had any idea of my personal history with the Indians. The gentleman Cubs fan whom I had spoken with the day before, had actually specifically told his students to be respectful to me by not mentioning the game and to be mindful that I would likely not want to talk about the loss. I didn’t see him that day, but the next day I saw him on campus in his new World Champions t-shirt, and I approached him to say congratulations. We chatted about how amazing the game had been and what an incredible ride it was. We agreed it was the best World Series of our time! So although I’m still nursing my wounds like all Clevelanders, I am incredibly proud of my Tribe, and grateful to the gracious Cubs fans I know. Thank you!

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    1. What an incredible connection you have to the team! Thank you so much for sharing – I absolutely LOVE hearing stories like that in sports because it proves that it’s more than just a game. To the fans, it’s something we carry in our hearts and the memories we have around our favorite teams shape who we are as people. Glad some of the Cubs fans out there were gracious, as I hope all Cubs fans are.

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  6. Great read. I’m from Cleveland and I grew up a die hard Indians fan but would race home from school to catch the cubs. Instead of cartoons I had wrigley after school and the jake in the evening. I’ve had the same thought has you all these years, no way will they meet in a World Series. I didn’t think the universe could take it. I’m a diehard baseball fan of any kind but watching my two teams go at it was like choosing who your favorite kid is. And I’d gladly take you up on that game 7 at wrigley.

    “Cleveland fans” giving you crap just ignore them. Same thing as those “Cub fans” you talked about.

    Take care, from and Indians/Cubs fan to a Cubs/Indians fan.

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  7. This letter almost brings me to tears, only not because I don’t really wanna connect with a Cubs fan right now and because I don’t want to be happy since we lost. I had prepared a speech in case we lost. Basically, we won in June, and the Cubs won a few nights ago. Although the city of Chicago has TWO baseball teams, one of whom did win the last century and nearly 60 years sooner than our last Series win; Michael Jordan, nuff said; da Bears; and Cleveland doesn’t even have hockey; the point is that there are probably some people out there that only care about the Cubs, and as such, those other successes don’t mean much compared to the 108-year dream realized a few days ago, which must feel like seconds ago. I can say I still don’t know how I feel about the Cavs win. The World Series was great, and since we lost, feeling that it’s great has me a whole ‘nother kinda confused. However, being a champion doesn’t mean winning all the time. It doesn’t really mean winning ever. You could behave like a champion even if you’re still a Montreal Expos fan or, like me, a Cleveland Lumberjacks fan. Cleveland fans are champions, and champions have so much success that they can’t help but share the love. So honestly, as much as I hate the Cubs (simply because you’re not from Cleveland…that’s all….and you’re in the NL, so, ya know) and as much as I love pretty much everything in Cleveland regardless of anything simply because it’s in Cleveland or from Cleveland or managed by Cleveland or whatever, the proper thing to do is recognize that the Cubs waited a long time, we know how that feels, and we just won. So we could let the Cubs win this time 😉 I mean, if we say they suck, that means we couldn’t beat a team that sucks. If we say they’re awesome, then how come it took them 7 games and extra innings to beat us? Probably because Cleveland is the best place in the world. So, ya know, good for the Cubs. Secretly, ya’ll can suck it (I mean, c’mon), BUT if Cleveland is going to show a championship image and much less just show who we really are, not just in sports but in life, in our hearts, in our basic understanding of human interaction, then the only right thing to do is show our support for the Cubs and shed a tear of joy for the 108 years that you’ve waited. I mean, it is an amazing feat. God, it just KILLS me to support you, but like I said, but true champions are so happy that it doesn’t matter if we don’t win it all every time. Truly secure people can let this go cuz we know what’s coming next. If ever Cleveland is one of the Manhattans or Bostons or LA’s of the world, with so many #1 rankings in various categories from economics to sports to colleges, etc., then the country would turn to Cleveland for leadership, and we know what to do, we know to be fair, and we know that there’s no winning in hogging all the glory. If any Cubs fan good guarantee we’d win next year, or if the Indians had won last year or recently, I’d have been cheering for the Cubs (Cleveland, don’t shoot me) because it would have been their turn. Yes, you had MJ (thanks for the shot, btw…a-holes) and soooo many other great sports stories, but like I said, for that one person who is a Cubs fan and not a fan of anything else, including, ya know, that OTHER baseball team in the SAME city, I’d be so happy for you if we’d won recently, and mathematically speaking, it’s fair that you won before us and NOT fair that so many others won twice or multiple times since you had last won in 1908. That’s how Cleveland is. Yes, we’ve waited 68 years, but Cubs fans (screw the franchise, the FANS) have waited 108 years. Righteous and proper Clevelanders know the Cubs should have won first. For that matter, Golden State blew an arena full of dicks for so long I forgot they were a team, and they beat us, and then we beat them. That’s how it works. We wanted to win, but Clevelanders can’t do that to someone who needs it more than we do. So…good for the Cubs…you needed this…don’t worry about us…we’re strong…we can wait.

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  8. What class you have Jami! Thank you! It was heartbreaking for us for sure, but our Tribe WAS great and they will come back next year. One of the things I admired about our team is just that…they were a team and played like a team. I know about the die-hard fans and the fair weather ones here as well, Happy for Chicago, well deserved and it most certainly was the best World Series EVER!!

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    1. Absolutely – I admired so much how both teams really played as a unit and really seem to enjoy each other’s company. These are both teams who are having so much fun playing baseball, and it makes it so much fun to watch as a fan! I’ll be looking out for your Tribe come next season!

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  9. Congratulations and a big “THANK YOU’ to the person that wrote this. It was heartfelt and honest. This is the sign of true Baseball Fan,,, not just a Cubs fan. THank you so much for sharing this with others.

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  10. Now this is Sportsmanship to the highest. Thank you Jami and congrats to the Cubs. One hell of a series.
    Too bad our football teams can’t get it together!

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  11. The Cubs were always my second favorite team, and I have no hard feelings about it all really. They were in the opposite league, based in a city I visited a lot & have a lot of family in, and they were like us really. I also find the White Sox deplorable & always thought the Cubs represeted the city much better. I have 2 Cubs shirts. But from here on out, no more sympathy. May you enjoy your next 100 year drought, and may we hopefully enjoy winning the next 100.

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  12. This was a very good heartfelt article about Baseball and Two Teams! This was the best series ever and brought baseball back into my life. I currently live in Chicago, and was born and raised in Cleveland, so yes I was torn but God both teams put on a good show. If you’re a Fan of Sports, than you will always be a winner, because there’s a winner in every sport.

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  13. I grew up in Cleveland, and always felt the connection between Cleveland and Chicago. This is a great letter from a person who obviously has gotten it right – fight like hell, do your best, then congratulate the winner!!!

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  14. Both teams are winners because they are truly loved by their fans !!! Two Great teams / one great series !!!! Unforgettable !! Loved Jamie’s letter. My feelings also.

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