It’s something that is permanently embedded in our minds as Chicago Cubs fans. No matter how well things seem to be going, the dread is always looming in the back of our minds. Often times we feed “the curse” with our own fear. It may be time for a new way of thinking for all of us.
Take a second and think about what it’s been like to watch this Chicago Cubs’ team so far this year. Fantastic, right? This Cubs team has already won 37 games and we just started the month of June. Now think to conversations you’ve had with other fans. Thoughts you may have had yourself. Something you read in the news about the Cubs. As positive as they should be, there was undoubtedly a moment that you thought the worst. Such as “Jorge Soler is terrible, they need to send him to Iowa”. What about Clayton Richard? He’s got to go from what I’ve seen. This is Cubdom, and it’ll likely take a championship to change it, but we have to try, right?
When Jason Hammel was forced to leave his last start early due to cramping in his hamstring, immediately there was talk that it could be the same injury as he suffered last year (I was there for that game against the Cardinals), and that his second half demise would be on its way soon and we needed to start looking for a pitcher.
Each time Joe Maddon chose to pull Kyle Hendricks early, the Cubs chat rooms would immediately go to the topic of “Hendricks can’t go deep in games”, and should look to replace him soon as well. But the fact is Hendricks was one of the better pitchers down the stretch last year. fBut many already have their eye on Nathan Eovaldi for one. It’s June 2nd for crying out loud.
I’m not upset with fans for feeling this way. How can you blame them? With a team this good you have to start identifying weaknesses before the time to address them comes. But the fact is, Theo Epstein is already doing that. The panic of the fans that the pitching won’t hold, or that we’ll need another bat to be able to win is almost deafening at times. Sure, addition of solid players is always good. But as this team is constructed right now, I think they’re good enough to win with what they have. Another bullpen arm or a bat off the bench? Sure. But I don’t think it’s necessary.
We have become conditioned to anticipate the worst and try to figure out ways to compensate for it. I always think back to when the Cubs were swept by the Diamondbacks in the playoffs and the belief was the team was too “left-handed”. So the Cubs went out and made wholesale changes. The team was never the same after that. I don’t believe that’s something this front office would do. Panic. But as fans we always seems to be a step in that direction when looking at the Cubs.
The Cubs are 52 games into the season. I’ve got some concerns about this team as well. The bullpen stands out to me, but I’d hate to be a reliever in the majors anyhow. An unenviable task it is. Soler struggled, got hot, now is not. Ben Zobrist should’ve been the NL Player of the Month, but has struck out four times in his last six at-bats after seeing his hitting streak come to an end. Pedro Strop. Justin Grimm. Jason Heyward. Even Anthony Rizzo lost his way for a bit. But it seems like the fans are the only ones that panic. Maddon is calm as a cucumber. Theo and Jed Hoyer are business as usual.
It’s a tough stigma to deal with, as many of my generation and those before me have seen the “June swoons”, the ’69 collapse and the back-to-back sweeps of the Cubs in the playoffs. But maybe, just maybe, this should be the year that we have a little more positivity in our discussions. It can’t hurt. At the least, you’ll probably enjoy watching the Cubs more if you stop thinking doomsday thoughts.