03 October 2004

Same time next year

Memo to all Chicago Cubs fans:


Watching the news last night and reading the paper today, you'd think people died at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon.  The Cubs lost.  They aren't going to the playoffs this year.  The will continue the longest streak in baseball, 96 consecutive years without a World Series championship.

Last I checked, I still have all my limbs, I doubt I have reached the halfway point of my life, and the sun still has several billion years to go before it burns itself out, leaving all of us behind in eternal darkness.

C'mon people, get a grip.  Do you know why folks in St. Louis are laughing at you today?  Not because the Cardinals were sixteen games better than the Cubs this year.  No, Redbird Nation is in stitches because of the pictures that undoubtedly ran in the Post-Dispatch today of legions Cubs fans ready to leap over the edge of the stadium and plummet to their demise.

After all, what's more lovable than a legion of fans absolutely distraught over their team's misery?

I can think of maybe 4,161 more important reasons to off yourself than baseball.

I may not be the greatest Cubs fan in the world, but I'd be willing to bet that I am in the top 100.  I have two constants in my thirty-seven years on this planet: my family and the Chicago Cubs.  This team is a part of my life, and it will always be that way.  If I were to die tomorrow, I know that my loved ones would place some type of Cubs memorabilia in my casket.  But I am not and will not shed any tears over this team.

I know how to lose.

The late, great Mike Royko once said "everybody loses in life eventually, that's why they have cemeteries."  Same goes for baseball.  Your team is going to lose.  Statistically speaking, there's only slightly more than a three percent chance (1 in 32) that any one team will win the World Series.  Those are losing odds.  Even the Yankees lose.

Let's take a stroll back a few years, shall we?  In 1971 and 1972, the Cubs won more than 81 games, which is what a team has to do if it wins more than it loses during a season.  I was four and five years old back then, and don't remember all that much of it.  Fast forward to 2003 and 2004, when the Cubs won 88 and 89 games.

That's back-to-back winning seasons.  When was the last time that happened?  Try 1971 and 1972.  Baseball has changed a lot in that thirty year time frame, but aside from a few trips to the post-season, the Cubs did not evolve.  They were mostly terrible.  There were many reasons for this, but we can wrap it all up nice and neat in a package and call it mismanagement.  They were a horribly run organization.

All that changed a few years ago.  Now upper management wants to win, and it has spent the last few seasons putting together the resources to do so.  2003 was supposed to be a building season, one where the team started to play better and work towards contending for many years.  They overachieved, went to the playoffs, and came within a well-fielded gound ball of reaching the World Series.

That was one of the worst things that could have happened.  This year, when fans should have been excited about having a legitimate chance at contending, people expected the ultimate, a championship.  As a result, you couldn't get a ticket for any games, and the fans got nasty.  Did you strikeout with the bases loaded?  BOO!  Did you give up a hit that let the other team score two runs?  BOO!  Did they cut off beer sales after the seventh inning?  BOO!

Morons.  This team contended for the playoffs this year, just like last year.  When was the last time that happened?  How about 1907 and 1908.  And guess what-they are going to contend next year as well, and probably several more years after that.  And you probably won't be able to get tickets for the rest of this decade.

1984-the Cubs won 96 games and came oh so close to the World Series.  Next year the team was heavily favored but was decimated by injuries and only won 75.  In 2004, the Cubs suffered as many serious injuries as the '85 team did, and still almost made it to the playoffs.  The '85 team used injuries as an excuse to roll over, while this year's team fought through it.  That is what is different about this organization now.  They want to win.

So please, lighten up.  Stop perpetuating the stereotype that all we do is cry in our beer every fall when the inevitable happens.  Rest up for a month or so, then start thinking about 2005.  The Cardinals and the Astros are old, there's no way they will be as good as they were this year, and when was the last time the Reds, Pirates and Brewers were any good?  The Cubs are set up for a long and successful run.

Perspective, people!  Of course I want to see the Cubs win a title, and it's going to happen sooner rather than later.  It's just not going to happen this year, and maybe not next year either.  In the meantime, there are other things that need our attention.  Work, family, school maybe, the list can go on and on.

And let's not forget about rooting for the Dodgers...to beat the Cardinals...in four.

(Only four months until spring training...)


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