My thoughts on why these two seasons have hurt so bad start with what I think it means to be a Cubs fan. As far back as I can remember I’ve been a Cubs fan, and that mean every spring we begin the season with limitless hope and enthusiasm. The long cold Chicago winter is over after the disappointment of the past season is forgotten. In a way being a Cubs fan, especially a diehard fan like myself, is like being a farmer in an area that’s drought ridden.
A few of us plant those seeds of hope in early January by making the pilgrimage to the Cubs Convention and mix with other diehards. We look at the off-season trades and new acquisitions, analyzing how they are going to make the team better. We sit around with friends and debate it over a beer or around a site like Bleed Cubbie Blue and obsess over it, debate it and pick it apart.
Then spring comes and the new hope sprouts like freshly planted wheat. The hope of a Cubs fan reaches towards the bright promise of a World Series title. The world is renewed and fresh with that promise, and for a few weeks or months that hope grows. In rare cases that hope that sprouted at Opening Day lasts until the playoffs and some years the hope is withered and dead by late August. No matter how much hope and promise there is at the start of the season, in the end the drought of 105 years sets back in and the hope of a Cubs fan goes dormant for the off season. But the thing is we’re always renewed in the spring.
I think this is why for so many of us the rebuild is so hard. The feeling of renewal is missing and we’re just left with the dead and withered hopes. We know intellectually that the rebuild isn’t something that just happens, it is a long multiyear process of building from the ground up. The farm system from Low A, all the way to Triple A needed to be renovated. This wasn’t going to be a simple coat of paint and a few new rugs. This is a tear it down to the foundations rebuild. There’s been no big name or even middling name free agent signings and no big trades to fire that sense of renewal.
It’s been nearly two years of getting some decent names and trading them by the deadline. Guys like Garza, who would have been a nice piece to have on a better team, or some of the other players the front office has passed along to other teams for a minor league prospect or a player to be named later.
In some ways it feels like two steps forward and one step back. The thing is keeping a few of these decent to good guys isn’t going to make the team we need. It’s just a ghost hope and frankly I’m tired of the decades of ghost hope. This is what we’ve had for most of the past 30+ years. Oh we did get close a few times once or twice a decade, but we’ve always been missing that something. We also knew that a rebuild was gonna be painful cause we’d seen other teams go through them. Season after season of being at the bottom of the standings or just above the bottom. Losing games that we should have won, knowing by the 4th inning the game is over, or just holding out hope we can win one of a three game series.
The thing I try and remember when it’s at its worst is this isn’t a quick free agent signing or two and a couple of middling prospects recharge, this is building a strong foundation to make a team that can be a perennial contender. This is about a team that hovers near the top to being at the top year in and year our, not a once a decade flash in the pan.