Chicago Cubs: Big expectations are a bit frightening
The Chicago Cubs enter the 2016 season as a favorite of many to win the World Series. You read that right, something that hasn’t happened in most of our lifetimes. Does that freak anyone else out?
I’ve been excited for the Chicago Cubs season to start since the last out of the National League Championship Series. We weren’t supposed to be there, so I was excited at what the Cubs accomplished. But I was also filled with disappointment that they had just as good a chance as the New York Mets or Kansas City Royals.
Now after an offseason filled with the additions of Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey–I’m absolutely giddy, as is most of the baseball world. But buried inside that excitement is fear. Fear that they may fail, as well as the fear that they could actually succeed. I’m not sure my heart will be able to handle either of those without a few years being shaved off.
The possibility of failure isn’t anything new. We’ve been dealing with it for 108 years. And only on a few occasions has there been this kind of hype around the Cubs. And of course, if they fail–it’ll be the typical “what did you expect, it’s the Cubs” from most people. Especially from our neighbors on the South side.
And then there’s that speckle of hope that the Cubs pull off that amazing–and for 108 years, untouchable feat–of winning the World Series and bringing the trophy to the North side. Nevermind that my head would explode, I’ll deal with that. What then happens to our Cubbies?
Slowly the Cubs have begun to shed the “lovable loser” tag that has followed them for years. If they win, then what are they? Are we going to become a hated franchise? Will we as fans have ANY idea how to handle being a champion? I’ve got to be honest, the saying “act like you’ve been here?” I don’t have the foggiest.
But what differs from the past, including 2007 and 2008 is the youth the Cubs have in their system. It’s tough for a team to keep injecting youth into the lineup like the Cubs have, but they’ve gotten so young it’s become damn near impossible. Behind the plate is about the only spot, and only until Miguel Montero and Grandpappy David Ross (retiring after this season) move on.
So even if the Cubs don’t win this year–and it feels like a disappointment–I don’t think it’ll be long before they’re back. For many years, the Tribune Co. ran this team as a cash cow. Seats were filled so who cared? When they got close, the only way to make a push was to spend more money because the farm system was non-existent. That lead to the issues of Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano like contracts that the Cubs couldn’t pay people to take.
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Now the team is built with a little dash of free agency and a whole bunch of homegrown. And there is still a pretty full cupboard in the minors, although it’s a year or two away. Some of the Cubs biggest issues this season are where to play Kyle Schwarber and his ridiculous bat, how well will a Gold Glove winning Heyward do in center, and who will the Cubs have at the back of the rotation? I like all these problems, but they still make me nervous.