For many years, the Chicago Cubs had been saying farewell after game 162. But things are different in Chicago these days. No longer is it goodbye, it’s a tune-up. It’s not “Wait till next year” anymore. It’s simply “wait till Friday”.
As Chicago Cubs‘ fans, the last day of the season was generally closure. Closure to some tough years. We weren’t looking to what the playoff roster would be, but the offseason and what the Cubs might do to get “better”. Would we deal a top player for draft picks? What players would they pick up to fill the roster? That’s no longer the case, as the Cubs hope to be part of the postseason for many years to come.
It’s odd how a franchise as old as the Cubs can have so many down years. How had they never found their “Theo Epstein” before now? And even in the years that they were successful, it came at a cost. They paid for the talent–too much at times–without building the infrastructure to succeed beyond a few years. The economic backlash of many of those deals handcuffed the organization for years.
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When the window passed
Once the Cubs missed that window, the Tribune Company then sold the team to Sam Zell in 2007. The Cubs would win their second straight division title, but it would be the start of some lean years before the Tom Ricketts era began in 2009.
To clean up the mess that was left, the Cubs went into an essential “spending freeze”, investing much less into contracts and trying to find unknowns and journeymen to fill in the gaps. The one “good” thing about losing? Draft position. After the 2011 season, Rickett’s brought in Epstein and his crew. They’ve assembled the likes of Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ.
It wasn’t always drama free the last five seasons. The Cubs are lucky to have Joe Maddon. I mean that. Sometimes, I don’t know if we deserved him. He’s quirky. Strange at times in his ways. But he’s blended the young and old of this team together seamlessly. We had to go through Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria to get here. Trial and error I suppose.
Where else would you see a team and its fans do what they have for David Ross, the backup catcher? Nowhere. That is the answer you were looking for. The year-long retirement party can only have one fitting ending. For now, we get to enjoy the final day of the regular season. Watch Kyle Hendricks finish with the best ERA in the NL, and remember a time when it wasn’t always this good in October.