I am mentally and physcially exhausted. This stretch is one of the worst in years. One of my buddies told me he has officially divorced the Cubs. I keep hearing these references and quotes, “I am breaking up with the Cubs,” or “The Cubs and I are on a break.” This is the general sentiment of many of the followers, but you see, I am more than a follower, I am a member of the Faithful. And as a member of the Faithful, in a quote that will remind many of a recent movie, I say to the Cubs, “I just can’t quit you man!” Sure, I want to give up, I want to run away, heck, I even want to stick my head in the proverbial sand. BUT I CAN’T. This thing is a part of me, it grabs hold and does not let go. Some would call this a problem, maybe even a sickness, but I consider it a blessing. I care about something, I am loyal, I am a supporter. These are all good lessons to learn about life itself. Many people I have come across in this world could learn a thing or two about loyalty and kindness. However, it goes beyond all of that. Fans of every other team in every other sport have not been forced to learn this lesson quite like a Cubs fan. Red Sox fans remember, but the overwhelming joy of ’04 has clouded their memories.
What I am trying to say that being a true fan, of any team for that matter, is not easy. Being a fan is not convenient, nor is it always fun. (Please note that I am not referring to the CASUAL fan.) Last Friday, it was 43 degress and raining at noon and my good buddy Patrick called me up and asked if I would be interested in an afternoon in the bleachers. I responded with, “Dude, it is 40 and raining.” And then I heard, “Sorry, thought you of all people would be willing to support this team, someone has to, no matter how hard it is.”
(I was sitting in the bleachers in less than two hours. By the way, please don’t think I am trying to say that being in the bleachers on a Friday is tough, no matter what the weather may be!)
The beauty of this story is that Patrick basically did not know what baseball was five years ago and now he is a diehard Cubs fan. He is intense and true, up with a win, down with a loss, he never gives up. Friday, I learned a little something from him.
Everyone has their own mechanisms for dealing with failure. Whether it is personal, emotional, or professional, we all react in different ways. However, when it comes to failure as a fan, it is a little different. We cannot control the outcome on the field, and therefore, being absolutely powerless is an interesting place to be. Some will sit here and say that this is the Tribune Company’s fault for accepting failure. Some will say it is Jim Hendry’s fault for creating a failure. And many will say it is Dusty’s fault for managing failure. I will say it is the players failing to produce that is causing the overall failure.
We sometimes forget the players in this mess. If someone repeatedly fails at their job, they are asked to leave or in many cases told to leave. Sometimes in the professional world I know, a manager or director may take the fall, but in most cases, it is the actual employee. In the matter of the Cubs, the said employee is the player.
Juan Pierre is batting almost 50 points lower than his CAREER low. When he scores a run, the Cubs are something like 9-3. However, his OBP is so bad right now, that as he said, it has been awhile since he has been to first.
Todd Walker started hot, but his batting average has dropped over .150 points since Derrek Lee went down. Whether or not batting 3rd is the right fit, his employer asked him to step up, and offensively he has not.
JJ has started to come around, and that is good. Many will complain that this was a mistake by Hendry, but based on his career numbers, he was an improvement over Burnitz. As of this morning, Burnitz is batting .185 with 6 HR’s and 19 RBI’s. In comparison, JJ is batting .265 with 6 HR’s and 17 RBI’s. At this point you cannot tell me Burnitz was a better option.
I know that A-Ram starts slow, but it is mid May and I can guarantee that no one reading this expected him to be hitting .214 with only 6 HR’s and 15 RBI’s.
Mark Prior, what is wrong with him? This off-season the Cubs brass did not bank on Prior being hurt. The two big injuries of his career were both freak occurences and unlike Wood, he has not continually dealt with structural damage, if ever.
Enough of the examples, I am just trying to make my point. Everyone involved is responsible. The Owners, the President, the GM, the Manager, AND the players. While we tend to focus on the higher-ups, as a fan, I am concentrating on what I watch everyday on TV or on the field, and that is the players.
On Sunday, I tried to avoid watching these players by playing a little of my own, golf that is. I tee’d off around 1, swearing to myself that I would not check the score on my phone until I was done. Well, I made it twelve holes, and caught the score just as the game was ending. The funny thing is that was the eighth time I pulled my phone out to check the score, but the only time I could go through with it. I definitely laughed out loud when I saw the score, but it still hurt. How could they lose again, how could they get shutout again, they lost ALL seven games against the Padres. After I laughed, another person I was golfing with asked what was so funny and I said, “The Cubs lost again.” He replied, “just give up man.”
NO, I will not. Maybe I have recalibrated my expectations, but I will not give up now. Fans do not give up, that is the definition of a true fan. I know I have absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of the game, but I should go, continue to suppot the team, that is what a fan does, and that is what I am going to do. I may be unhappy or sad or cursing to myself, but I will be there, hoping for the best as always. And for those who think I am a complete moron, well you are not invited to the party!
Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and until next time….
Stay Classy Cub Fans!