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cincinnati redsChicago Cubs – There was a time when baseball was America’s pastime and the sport held the allegiance of all right-thinking people, but football has since supplanted it in the hearts of an increasingly conservative populace. In a more innocent age, Cubs were a perfectly acceptable mascot, but football demanded more machismo, and so it was that Chicago’s team became the Bears, in an effort to one-up the beloved baseball team. Bears were big, burly, and tough, while Cubs–or worse still, Cubbies–were derided as less manly. Of course, after the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the irony of big, hairy men who rolled around in the grass together and were prone to patting each other on their butts being seen as exemplars of heterosexual toughness became apparent. The Cubs, meanwhile, remain simple adorable losers, with little sexual identity whatsoever.

Milwaukee Brewers – During Prohibition, Milwaukee, which had long been known as a centre of beer production, struggled mightily. Looking to save their businesses, the breweries diversified their products to include colas and root beers. Al Capone took advantage of the situation and arranged for the smuggling of illicit booze into Chicago from nearby Milwaukee. Always eager to conceal his criminal operations behind a veneer of legitimate business, Capone owned a company that supplied public school cafeterias with soft drinks. In 1927 his entire operation was almost brought to its knees when alcohol meant for speakeasies was accidentally shipped to grammar schools, resulting in mass drunkenness amongst Chicago’s 5 to 8-year olds. Capone managed to shift the blame to the Milwaukee breweries, which were shut down for the remainder of Prohibition, and the entire city, by extension, was vilified as a den of iniquity. In Chicago, ever since, a “Milwaukee Brewer” has meant someone who serves alcohol to minors.

St. Louis Cardinals – Catholics were once viewed with as much suspicion in America as Muslims and Scientologists are today. In fact, the main targets of the Ku Klux Klan after African Americans were Catholics. St. Louis, for a time the biggest city on the Frontier, and the Gateway to the West, once had two baseball teams: the Browns and the still-extant Cardinals. Much like Rangers and Celtic in Glasgow, the teams garnered support from opposite sides of the spiritual divide. The pious and unprepossessing Browns were the choice of dour Protestants, while the Cardinals, as much as they tried to hide their papal allegiance behind their bird mascot, were Catholic to the marrow. For the many born-again Christians who don’t believe Catholics are Christians, the Cardinals still represent a fifth column in the heart of the Mid-West.

Pittsburgh Pirates – At the height of their success in the nineteen-oughts, the Pirates were the preeminent base stealers in baseball, but off the diamond were notorious ladies men, apt to steal your best gal from under your nose. This reputation took a severe hit in the 1970s with the rise to prominence of the homely Kent Tekulve, and was well and truly put to rest with the addition of the monstrously ugly Zane Smith in the 1980s.

Cincinnati Reds – Dirty Commies. Still, twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall? You betcha.

"And in the time remaining, I'd like to talk about... Da Bears."

Everyone in Toronto knows that Etobicoke councillor Doug Ford is a huge football fan, just like Mayor Rob Ford. The brothers have made no secret of their desire to lure an NFL team to Toronto, and Super Bowl Sunday is famously their favourite day of the year. But after last weekend’s exciting game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, Doug is surprising many by launching a campaign to overturn the results of the game, a 21-17 triumph by the Giants.

While insisting that the NFL is supreme, a group of Etobicoke councillors led by Mr. Ford is attempting an end-run around last week’s result, sending a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to allow the Bears to be declared the winner of the game. This is the latest gambit in Ford’s strategy to find respect for the Bears, who play in the US city that he calls his second home. The Bears did not make the playoffs, let alone play in the Super Bowl, which Mr. Ford calls “a real shit-slap in the face to all the hard-working taxpayers of Chicago.” He’s paying for the lobbying effort–which he calls SOB or “Save Our Bears”–out of his own deep, daddy-provided pockets.

“It’s really incredible that he’s trying to make the results of the Super Bowl, the supreme deciding force in football, irrelevant,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc, a left-leaning opponent of the Mayor and his brother, as well as a better judge of football talent, based on his record of defeating the Mayor in the Council football pool this past season. “But I will say one thing, SOB is a great name for this thing–it suits Doug to a T.”

For his part, Mr. Ford counters that “The recent decision by the NFL to move ahead with awarding the Vince Lombardi trophy to the Giants poses a number of concerns.”

The letter to Goodell added that heroics by Giants quarterback Eli Manning at last Sunday’s Super Bowl “reversed the direction” of a March, 2011, memorandum of understanding between the NFC, AFC, Commissioner’s office, and football fans that “the Giants are a bunch of East Coast, latte-sipping elitists.”

Reached for comment, Commissioner Goodell said that the memorandum of understanding was “non-binding” and required the Bears to actually make the playoffs. Mr. Goodell indicated last week that the winner of the Super Bowl has to be one of the teams playing in the game.

During Tuesday’s press conference announcing his challenge, Mr. Ford’s allies briefly debated the question of whether their gambit was consistent with football tradition. “I respect the game of football,” said Mr. Ford. “But football has to start respecting the fact that the Bears rule.”

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