Chicago Cubs players aren’t concerned with their slower start to the season. So why are so many fans ready to jump off the proverbial cliff?
Entering the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday, the Chicago Cubs sat at 6-5, barely over the .500 mark despite entering the year as heavy World Series favorites.
Back-to-back losses to Clint Hurdle‘s club aren’t sitting well with Cubs fans in general. Both were very winnable games and, on both occasions, the offense came up short. Nevermind the fact that Saturday’s loss can, to a degree, be chalked up to the windy conditions at the Friendly Confines.
For Cubs fans with the taste of a title still on their lips, these are excuses and little more.
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Baseball fans on the North Side of Chicago have always been hard to please. But, now that they’ve taken their place atop the baseball world, they expect more than ever. Win 110 games, run away with the National League Central and repeat as champions.
No pressure, right?
In the Chicago Cubs’ clubhouse, though, there are no signs of panic. Yet to even play 10 percent of the regular season schedule, this team knows it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
"‘‘We’re not really worried about how we started off last year [25-6] compared to this year,’’ Kris Bryant told the Sun-Times. ‘‘Last year was kind of a fairy-tale year for us. It’s not always going to be like that, so it’s important to kind of realize that early on, so that we’re not hitting that panic button like we did around the All-Star break last year.’’"
Hot out of the gates doesn’t mean success
Last year, the Cubs tore out of the gates with a 25-6 record. They also finished the regular season with a league-best 103 wins. And, of course, that dominant regular season culminated in a drama-filled postseason run capped with a World Series title.
After an offseason makeover, though, the Arizona Diamondbacks went in a different direction. Through the Cactus League slate, the Diamondbacks were unstoppable, finishing the spring at 24-8.
The hype surrounding this team was unreal. After luring Zack Greinke away from the rival Dodgers in the offseason, this hot start had fans buying in to what the front office was selling. But, soon, it was a very different story.
Arizona did not enjoy first-place in the NL West at all during the regular season. The club failed to finish any full month over .500 and finished the second 22 games out of first in the division, leading to an offseason front office fire sale.
The morale of this story?
How you start isn’t necessarily indicative of how you’ll finish. Baseball has seen countless teams make strong second-half pushes en route to powerful postseason runs.
In other words, calm down.
Calm and steady
That’s not any advice needed with the leaders of the Chicago Cubs.
Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta and Joe Maddon are all preaching calm. And why shouldn’t they? This is a team that won a World Series, features the reigning National League MVP – and hasn’t lost a game by more than two runs yet this season.
"‘‘We won the World Series last year, so there will be questions, but that’s just natural,’’ Arrieta said. ‘‘That comes with the territory. It’s a business of results, and we still expect really good results from the group we have this year.’’"
So, to all the panicking Cubs’ fans out there, I offer these words.
First, if you see reaction pieces on this site or any of the other countless sites that cover the Cubs, understand it’s just pointing out trends. It doesn’t mean that it’s expected these trends continue for a week, a month or even the rest of the season.
This team is too well-built to fail.
It’s mid-April. Take a step back from that ledge you’ve been eyeing and breathe. Two weeks into a season and our team is yet to get blown out. They could easily have only two or three losses, but that’s not the way things have gone.
Stay calm and enjoy the ride. The Cubs are reigning World Series champions. Enjoy that fact and, as Joe Maddon preaches, don’t ket the pressure exceed the pleasure.