Disappointment is something we Chicago Cubs fans are all too familiar with. When offered the smallest amount of hope we sometimes take it as a sign of our time is coming – instead it turns into a false sense of hope.
When the Cubs signed Joe Maddon – that sign started to come out from the shadows again. This isn’t the first time that early season hopes and dreams turned into disappointment.
You actually don’t have to look that far back into the past to when this similar situation did happen. Do you happen to remember that issue of Sports Illustrated with Lou Piniella and Alfonso Soriano – hyping the Cubs and their new chances of winning?
Piniella like Maddon, was the Tampa Bay Rays manager before signing on with the Cubs. “Sweet Lou” brought a new-found confidence to the Cubs and their fans – he had success in his previous 19-years as a manager.
With Cincinnati, he won the 1990 World Series against the power-house Oakland A’s. In Seattle, he led them to 4 playoff appearances. While not finding success in Tampa Bay – some, including Piniella, would blame that on the lack of help from the front office with their small budget.
That wasn’t going to be the case with the Cubs.
The Cubs opened up their checkbook and wrote out a number of big contracts to help Piniella win now. Signing free agent names like Mark DeRosa, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, and Cliff Floyd. Piniella was able to take the team and take them from worst to first – into the post season – only to be swept in the first round by Arizona.
The following year the Cubs would again open up their bank accounts to Japanese sensation Kosuke Fukudome. Same expectations heading into the season only to meet the same end result – only this time it was the L.A. Dodgers who swept them out of the playoffs.
This time it is a little different. Maddon has a young team – Piniella had a veteran team. Both have strong personalities but very different ones. Maddon is more of a fun and free personality – Piniella had more of a tough-love personality. But both were similar in that they want the fundamentals done and done right and they expected to win.
Before the Cubs signed Maddon, the expectations were that this season would be the next step to our final destination. No more than that. Now it seems some are getting ahead of themselves maybe too much.
Kris Bryant is having a tremendous spring. Jorge Soler is looking better each day. Jon Lester is now the ace we needed – and the rest of the pitching staff seems to be following his lead. Everything is looking great.
I’m not saying this team won’t be successful. I think they can contend for the Central. Pittsburgh and St. Louis are still the favorites I think – but we aren’t that far off from being in that conversation. Myself personally, I think contending for a wild card spot is a much more realistic goal.
To saddle them with the expectations of a division title, playoff push, and to the World Series is unfair and may only set this team back.
I think they can contend for the Central. Pittsburgh and St. Louis are still the favorites I think – but we aren’t that far off from being in that conversation. Myself personally, I think contending for a wild card spot is a much more realistic goal.
The plan was for 2016 to be the year that this team emerged as a team to contend with – granted the signing of Lester and Maddon accelerated that some. Bryant and Soler’s play have increased that even further – but let’s tap the brakes some. If not we may only be setting ourselves up for that disappointment again.
This is going to be a fun team to watch play and grow – let’s not rush them.