Chicago Cubs: Fans need to embrace the hate that is headed our way
Mixed up in the euphoria of a World Series, Chicago Cub fans may not have noticed what has occurred. The landscape of baseball has shifted. The once “lovable losers” are now the most hated franchise in baseball. Well, if you don’t count the Red Sox or Yankees.
Can you hear it? The faint groaning coming from every other city in the country. The Chicago Cubs use to be a delightful appetite to those who reveled in their misery. But the Cubs have transformed themselves and the game, and not to everyone’s liking.
Within the inner circle of the Cubs family, everything about last year was amazing. 2016 was a feel good story about a bunch of likable guys. The publicity tour in the wake of the World Series only highlighted the attraction these guys oozed out.
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Fast forward to 2017 and the tide is turning. I’m not surprised nor should any fan. Envy and hatred fill the dark empty hole left by disappointment. As a Cubs fan I know I’ve sunk to the depth of misappropriated anger as the Cardinals, White Sox, and Red Sox hoisted trophies before us. And now it’s our turn to take the mantle and be the symbol of everyone else’s motivation.
The grass is greener
After crawling through the self-pity of season’s past I can confidently say that life is sweeter as a winner. But as a winner, we must understand that the way we are viewed will change dramatically. Take Red Sox fans as an example. Before 2004 we adored the fanbase as the blue collar, fun-loving crowd. By 2008 that feel had soured.
Part of the fun in being despised is dealing with the irrational opinions towards our team. Laurence Holmes of 670 The Score in Chicago experienced the irrational nature of fans a couple of days ago.
Holmes was asked by fellow radio hosts in Pittsburgh his thoughts on the Cubs buying their championship. I hadn’t come across that view since the Cubs won it all in October. So it got me thinking. Is there really a perception that the Cubs bought their title?
Building and spending wins championships, but mostly building
An article written for Time back in November suggested that the Cubs championship was as much bought as it was earned. Author Drew Haase did acknowledge both sides of this argument. But did so by highlighting the correlation between the spending hike and the championship.
"But really, come on. This incredible Cubs phenomenon simply couldn’t have happened without a massive surge in spending. -Drew Haase"
Sure, the Cubs increased the spending when they signed Ben Zobrist, John Lackey, and Jason Heyward to free agent deals. But prior to that increase, the Cubs did the exact opposite for quite some time leading to that point.
In fact, after 2010 when the payroll was $145M, the Cubs overall payroll decreased each year for four years when it settled at $92.6M in 2014. That’s according to Baseball Prospectus.
and let’s not forget that during that same stretch the Cubs drafted Javier Baez (2011), Albert Almora (2012), Pierce Johnson (2012), Kris Bryant (2013), and Kyle Schwarber (2014). The only phenomenon that took place was an increase in baseball IQ. By the time Zobrist, Lackey, and Heyward were available the Cubs were in a position to use money to put the finishing touches on the roster.
Theo Epstein knows that it’s about not throwing bad money at a contract. Despite Heyward’s struggles last year, his defensive metrics are still worth a high value.
Next: Duensing is running out of time
We are mere days away from Opening Day. And each day the hatred and envy will increase until the next team comes around. Until that time, Cub fans should just embrace the hate and enjoy being on the other side of the coin for once.