Tonight the Cubs play in the NL Wild Card game, marking their first postseason appearance since 2008. Amidst all the hoopla about this do-or-die game in Pittsburgh, several nuances and superstitious quips have come to light. No, not all the tired crap about curses & goats, but rather, well…read on.
I made a post on Facebook this morning (since deleted due to the grave misunderstandings and intolerably wrong interpretations it caused) cautioning my fellow Cubs fans not to look ahead, or act like this game has been won already. Not that I don’t have complete confidence the Cubs can win this game, but my reasons for such a status were twofold:
- Don’t feed the trolls. And by trolls I mean, of course, the vitriol-spewing Cardinals and White Sox fans. Many of the former are the entitled, quintessential playground bully (the “ha-ha!” variety) while the latter are stuck in 2005. Rarely do either have any legitimate, actual reason to hate the Cubs, they just like to wish ills nonetheless. Good ‘ol schadenfreude at it’s finest. Just this morning alone I’ve heard everything from claims that Hitler was a Cubs fan, to one person hoping Wrigleyville actually gets destroyed, because that would apparently be for the greater good? Um, okay.
- Reverse-jinxing does work. For those who know my level of Blackhawks fandom, you’ve seen this tactic be successful. So a little self-deprecating & pseudo-anti-gloating can go a long way. I’m an extremely superstitious person by nature, and baseball has always brought out some of the worst of that in me, from my days as a player, until now, and likely forever.
Now that that’s (hopefully) cleared up, let’s look at why this Cubs season has been great, and why, at the risk of catching more flack for what could be considered an apathetic viewpoint, anything that happens from here on out is icing on the cake for me.
My expectations coming into this season were very simple: I wanted the Cubs to finish at or over .500, that this influx of highly-touted rookies would live up to the hype, that there’d be important games in August & September, that they’d be competitive for the whole season, and that a strong base would be established for the coming years. All those expectations have been completely blown out of the water and left a vapor trail in it’s wake. Some key overall themes:
- 73 wins last year up to 97 with 4 rookies in the lineup. Don’t care who you are, it’s impressive.
- A roster that includes the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year and if there’s any justice, Cy Young. Oh, and an MVP candidate is in there too.
- A manager whose quirks and goofiness were always admired, but being tasked with changing the whole culture here, with this organization, was monumental. Check.
- Quickly becoming one of the best teams in all of baseball, in a division where 3 of the 4 best teams reside. That in itself is an accomplishment.
- Future outlook. I’ve never been one of those Cubs fans with the “wait til next year” attitude. But when the organization has been completely redesigned for long-term success and you finally see the work start to materialize, it’s exciting. This is only the beginning.
- This team is: Fun. To. Watch.
Add all that up and what you have is just the tip of the sword on what this team could finally become. But the hell with tomorrow. No time like the present to see what these kids can do…