Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ain't gonna end well

As the Cubs limp down the home stretch in (despite what some say) the worst division in baseball, it has come to the forefront of my mind that barring 'the miracle', most of us know how this thing ends. As most of you are aware the ending to these things usually involves television shots of Cub fans crying. You see when this little joy ride ends either in the regular season or the postseason it is gonna leave a bad taste in our mouths. Coming close but knowing the reality that this team is so far away is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. I have acknowledged that my own Cub fandom changed dramatically back in October 2003. I have not looked at this team the same since. I know many people feel the way about October 1984. It's stupid, but I feel like the boys in blue owe me one. I know that sounds really bad, but at times I really feel that way.

It has been discussed here and in other places that the 2003 NLCS was to Cub fans what the 1986 World Series was to Red Sox fans. You will get little argument from me. I hope that is the case. If it is, I applaud that change in Cub fans. I applaud the fact that the fans are holding this team to a higher standard. If you don't do it, who will? Tribune Ownership? The next owner? LMAO.

In wake of the Carlos Zambrano incident Rick Morrisey in the Chicago Tribune had an interesting take on the fact that the fans want 'it' more than the players. Here's what he wrote:

Start with this basic truth, fellas: The fans want it more than you do.

You players will disagree with that statement, probably all the way to your graves. But it's not meant as a knock or as an indictment of your desire as competitors. Cubs fans are so thirsty for a World Series title that when they talk, sand comes out their mouths.

So how can you blame them when scorpions spill out with the sand once in a while? Booing is the natural outgrowth of 98 straight seasons without a championship.

Unless you're a player who grew up in Chicago and rooted for the Cubs in the face of overwhelming evidence that you were a goof for doing so, you can't possibly know the feeling of dryness on the North Side.

Let's face it, a multimillion-dollar contract takes away a lot of the sting of not winning. Whatever your emotional investment is in the Cubs, it can't be bigger than your paycheck. Cubs fans have no such soft landing place, no escape. They can't go anywhere else. Oh, they can move out of town, but their Cubs afflictions are hitched to their cars.

Right now the fans see a mediocre division and a golden opportunity to get to the playoffs. They look in their rearview mirrors and see those 98 seasons of aridity. They see the end of their communal rope. They want to win now.

The fans know you players are trying. But they're sick of rooting for effort. They've seen decades of both effort and lack of effort. They're sick of tapping their toes, checking their watches and waiting for next year.

They want results now.

I actually think for the most part that is true. The players want to win, but for most of them this is just one stop in their playing career. For most of us, this is it. We were born into this fandom, at some point we made a conscious effort to stay with it and now we find ourselves stuck in this often abusive relationship. Many of us fear leaving because if we did we would miss 'it'.

I apologize for digressing, this brings me back to this season. 2007 has been a real improvement from 2005 and 2006 no doubt about it. The team has a group of likeable players, a manager that doesn't hide behind his son in press conferences, a President that has put the organization on notice, and on the field this team has had some exciting moments. They have a nice core of young players who have contributed throughout the season. Somewhere though, the magic that championship teams get has eluded this club. Still, without that magic they are in a race to be the best of the worst in the NL Central.

So we find ourselves at this point. The Cubs are in a race for a poor division. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figue out how this thing ends. Sometime in the next month and a half the Cubs once again are going to come up short on the ultimate goal. In the past the playoff teams of 1984, 1989, 1998 and 2003 were celebrated. Just making the playoffs was enough. Will it be this time? Remember what the new team President said last fall when he took control of the club?

"My goal is singular. The purpose of what I've been asked to do is for the Cubs to win the World Series. Not win the wild card or win the division or win the pennant. It's time to win, it's time to win the World Series. It's time to reward these tens of millions of fans who have waited for a long time."

If making the playoffs isn't good enough for the team President, it shouldn't be for us fans. So while many of you look ahead with your blue tinted glasses to the imaginary celebrations that await this team. Please allow me and other Cub fans the right to fear the inevitable collapse.

No comments: