I am currently watching the Cubs take on the Dodgers on MLB Network. What I am seeing is more than a bit discouraging. Let’s start with the offense. The Dodgers are patient, disciplined, clutch-hitting speedsters who put a lot of pressure on the opposing team and a lot of runs on the scoreboard. The Cubs have yet to find their mojo this year. They have not been patient, not been clutch, and definitely are not speedsters. It seems the pressure is on their own hitters, who know they have to get 2-3 hits per inning or a homerun to score. Being able to manufacture runs in a variety of ways is what makes a good, consistent offense. It is also what wins games in the postseason.
Now let’s get to the defense. The Cubs have been about as good as expected in this area. They have solid defenders like Fukudome, Lee, Soto. They also have some holes in Soriano, Fontenot(at third base), and Theriot(zone coverage). I guess my point is that the defense should be good enough to keep them in games this year but don’t expect an onslaught of sportscenter webgems.
While the offense has been sluggish and the defense has been average, pitching is where the Cubs can do some damage this year. Yes, I know Zambrano, Dempster, and Harden have been a little off with ERAs around 4.5. I am also aware that the bullpen has been offering walks more often than GM has been issuing walking papers. However, I have peered into my magic crystal ball and taken a look at the Cubs by mid-July. This is what I see. Zambrano, Dempster, and Harden have all worked out the kinks and have ERAs around 3.5. Lilly and Wells are also continuing to have good years as they provide very good bottom of the rotation pitching. Guess what else? By mid-July the Cubs bullpen consists of Gregg, Marmol, Guzman, Marshall, Samardzija, Ascaino, and Heilman. They have found their groove and now strike out hitters instead of issuing walks.
In the end, I think the Cubs will compete for a spot in the playoffs. They have too much pitching and too much talent not to. Sadly, I do not see this group of players/coaches beating the best teams to bring home the long awaited world series trophy. Will this group ever become the champs? Time will tell. My crystal ball cannot see that far into the future. All I know is that the pressure will continue to bear down on Wrigley Field until the championship banner pierces the bubble as it is placed upon its roof. Patience it seems is needed by more than just the Cub hitters.
Having already thanked my lucky stars for all the good food I will be eating tomorrow, I immediately overlook Thanksgiving and start to make my Christmas wish list for the coming year in baseball. These are things I would like to see, not necessarily what I think will happen. Here we go:
- C.C. Sabathia signs with the Oakland Raiders and becomes their starting quarterback.
- Fort Knox offers their entire inventory of gold to the Padres for pitcher Jake Peavy. San Diego declines the offer.
- The Yankees immediately offer Fort Knox a 10-year deal for $300 million.
- Scott Boras immediately calls Manny Ramirez.
- The National League wins the all-star game.
- Jeff Samardzija plays like a champion everyday.
- Mark Cuban buys the Chicago Cubs “fantasy” team.
- Bud Selig immediately bans fantasy teams.
- While playing the Cardinals, a Brewer’s fan gets arrested for buying a Budweiser.
- Santa gets lost and delivers the championship to Wrigley Field.
Much has been said about the Chicago Cubs and their lack of a World Series championship since 1908. I have my own opinions about what has led to this streak of futility, however, I find it more productive to look to the future. As a cubs fan, I am very optimistic that this organization is headed in the right direction. Here are a few reasons why I believe this to be true:
- Chicago is one of the biggest markets in the country.
- The cubs have a hefty payroll.
- The farm system produces good players.
- The cubs have a broad fan base.
Look no further than Boston to find that this formula works pretty well. I truly feel if the cubs can consistently get to the postseason things will eventually fall into place. It worked for the red sox and braves, and it can work for the cubs too.
I would also like to discuss some of the tough questions facing this team:
- New ownership.
- New ballpark.
- The fragile psyche of the team and fans.
Here’s hoping the new owner of the cubs keeps his checkbook open and his mission winning. All of the current talent and goodwill flies out the window if the new owner decides to cut payroll and accepts mediocrity.
Here’s also hoping a serious debate begins on building a new ballpark. Look, I know how special and historic Wrigley Field is. I have been to multiple games there and I appreciate its appeal to the fans. I also know that the cubs lose millions of dollars a year due to a lack of advertising and suites. It is possible that an updated Wrigley Field could be built at the same site. Another option would be to build a retractable roof park overlooking Lake Michigan. This topic will have to be addressed at some point, so why not get the ball rolling.
Finally, I would like to discuss Cub Psyche Syndrome. This condition is prevalent in early October and symptoms include upset stomach, profuse cussing, and severe chest pain. Seriously though, what happened against the Dodgers this year?! The team was flat, the fans were civilized, and the exit was swift. This “lack of swagger” starts from within. The cubs need someone (employee, coach, player) to make a stand, to sincerely believe that a championship is possible. When we say “It’s Gonna Happen” what does “It” allude to?