Bandwagons for Chicago sports teams are rare and when one of the city’s perpetual losers or mediocre franchises actually manages to get into the playoffs, fans that decide to get on the bandwagon do so with a sense of trepidation. They’ve been suckered into hopping on a bandwagon before only to be let down by the team of the moment. They may have a friend sitting with him on the bandwagon who is trying to convince him why this team has that special and often elusive combination that allows them to overcome any adversity they may encounter in the playoffs and win it all.
For every fact the optimistic bandwagoner throws at the skeptic, the skeptic can point out an example of a Chicago team that was supposed to go all the way but came out short: (The ’06 Bears, The ’84 Cubs, The ’89 Cubs, the ’92 Blackhawks etc) Clearly the Cubs have been the most glaring example of this through the years, but no Cubs collapse and bandwagon disaster was as demoralizing as the ’03 team’s near miss. In 2003 I’d been following the Cubs diligently since ’98 when I was 12 years old and up until that season I’d had to hear from White Sox fans and casual sports fans that the Cubs had fans with a weak understanding of the game and only showed up to Wrigley Field to watch Sammy Sosa hit homers during his juicing days. As I found out later, most of those people reside in the bleachers.
Once the Cubs won the division title suddenly those people that were neutral and usually enjoyed mocking the team decided to hop on the Cubs bandwagon. The wagon took off and soon the Cubs were leading the NLCS 3-1 against the Marlins, needing just 1 win against to reach the World series, but then they lost 3 straight just like the ’84 team did against San Diego and people couldn’t believe they’d been naive enough to think a Chicago team could win a championship. Outside of the Bulls 6 championships in the ’90s, no Chicago team has had a period of sustained success where they actually lived up to fan’s expectations. This is why Chicagoans hold on so dearly to one year wonder teams such as the ’05 White Sox and ’85 Bears. They’re desperate for a winner and don’t really care if they’ve been watching for years waiting for the team in question to turn into a contender.