A few months ago, there was a sense of apathy emanating throughout the Chicago Cubs fanbase. The group of people known for eternal loyalty seemed disgruntled to the point where the interest in the non-contending team had nearly evaporated. It would have been hard to imagine a scenario like this in a post-World Series drought world prior to 2016, but it was suddenly very real.
While the fans are certainly not yet on cloud nine, there seems to be a sense of cautious optimism. I can’t say it’s second-half 2014 level, but there are reasons to think the fanbase feels a tad better now compared to a few months ago. Is every fan feeling this way? Obviously not, but as a collective, the mood feels like it’s slowly shifting.
Is the Cubs fanbase seeing the light? Why?
The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions. Rumors of Willson Contreras and Ian Happ being dealt resulted in fans bracing themselves to say goodbye to the two All-Stars, only for neither to be moved at the deadline. On top of that, the Cubs have been double-digit games below .500 for most of the season after being told by brass this was not going to be a full rebuild. The horrific month of June was particularly rough.
However, some optimism has grown for several reasons. A year after the old World Series core was blown up, the group of unknown prospects have gotten the chance to show the baseball world what they potentially provide. The Cubs farm is deep and has grown so much that people are starting to see it. The likes of Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcantara, Alexander Canario and Caleb Kilian are now household names.
On top of this, the big league team itself is seeing more growth from younger players, as well. Nico Hoerner is top-10 in the National League in hitting and is contributing every night. Justin Steele’s exponential growth as a starter has been particularly fun to watch over the past month or so. A number of aging veterans are being replaced with younger players like Nelson Velázquez and Christopher Morel. This not only gives us a look at potential future pieces but gives fans reassurance that the front office values the long-term vision.
Not all fans want to admit it, some are even still legit skeptical (and they have a right to be), but the recent comments from Cubs owner Tom Ricketts regarding the willingness to spend may have sparked more hope. Rumors of the Cubs landing one of the big shortstops this winter has perked some people up. This team has money to spend, and the fans deserve to have a good squad again.
It was very telling when the Cubs recently rallied in a game late to take the lead against an even worse Nationals team at Wrigley. The nearly sold out crowd was cheering like it was a postseason game. This fanbase showed that deep down they do still care, even after showing apathy for the past year or so. I cannot speak for everyone but I sense the fans are looking more toward the light. Hopefully, the light truly is the path to a better tomorrow.