This holiday season, Cub fans young and old, bandwagon and long haul, will receive the gift of Cubbies-themed swag. Chicago’s North Side team has never performed poorly in the merchandise sector, despite going on 108 years without a championship. But outlets such as Sports Business Daily are reporting “triple-digit year-over-year increases during the holiday period” for all things Cubs. Cyber Monday sales were particularly robust.
Among individual players, demand for gifts associated with third baseman and 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant is particularly hot. The 23 year-old is near the top of the sales list for player-specific items. And for the fan on a budget, there were resources such as A Cubs Black Friday Guide: Gifts Under 30 Bucks.
This joyful giving and receiving of team spirit is good for one’s blue Cubbie blood. I remember requesting a specific t-shirt for Christmas when I was 10 years old. It was an old timey weathered gray color, and bore an antique logo proclaiming the team’s last World Series victory year. It was a cool shirt and they were unabashedly my guys. But still, it was 1988 when I opened that package. I was old enough to understand simple math and the pain of seeing it in print.
This holiday season is not one of cynical, weary Cubs fandom. In light of the team’s surprisingly forceful 2015 performance, stacked to the upper deck with young kids that are largely returning to the field in 2016, anything seems possible. With the franchise in the hands of owners and management who seem genuinely committed to bringing rings to Chicago – and possess the baseball savvy required to instill trust – we can forget our troubles and wear our colors proudly. Lovable losers? How about usurping underdogs.
Some lucky members of Cubs Nation will find tickets to the 31st Annual Cubs Convention under the tree this week. Scheduled to run January 15-17 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, fortunate fans will get to mingle with players and leadership while enjoying an insider view of the upcoming season. I have a good friend who professes himself only a marginal modern-day Cubs devotee. However any scalper aware of his crush on Jake Arrieta stands to earn a nice holiday bonus. Members of the young team are not only likable and competent. They’re pretty!
In short, it’s a season of comfort and unreserved giving for Cubs fans. At the time of this post, the thermometer registers an unseasonably terrific 59 degrees Fahrenheit – two days before Christmas. Throw in intermittent pouring rain and if one closes their eyes to the encroaching late afternoon darkness, it feels an awful lot like spring.
Becky Sarwate is the current President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, founded in 1885. She’s also a part-time freelance writer, award-winning columnist and blogger who lives in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago with her partner Bob and their beloved pup, Jude. Her collected works are published athttp://www.beckysarwate.com