I'm not going to write much about last night's 9-1 loss to the Marlins, which reached new lows for this year's version of our favorite team, and this only a day after a dramatic come-from-behind win over the defending World Champions. Just when you thought perhaps at least the humiliation was over, it got worse. And to add insult to insult, the Marlins did it with two of the guys the Cubs sent them for the mostly-ineffective Juan Pierre -- Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto (and yet another ex-Cub, Todd Wellemeyer), and not just on the mound, either. Nolasco hit his first major league home run off Sean Marshall.
Instead of analyzing a game that was over in the second inning, I'm going to do as I've done a few times in the past and write a little bit about why I'm here, and hope that it reaches the hard hearts of those who are having steam come out of their ears about this season.
Is this season turning into a disaster? Absolutely, it is. Those who say I don't see that -- well, you're just plain wrong. I see it every day in person. This team was constructed in such a way that every single thing had to break right for it to have a chance to win.
Not only did that not happen, but pretty much every single thing that could go wrong, has gone wrong.
But does that make me want to foam at the mouth, say "Fire everyone!" or "Sign anyone just to say we did so!" or "I'm going to put a bag over my head and march outside Wrigley Field in protest!" or "I'm giving up my season tickets, and I'm going to burn them along with Jim Hendry in effigy!"
None of the above, frankly, has any effect whatsoever. Many bloggers and others, frankly, flatter themselves that anything they write here, or perform in public, will have an iota of an effect on the managers or executives hired by a subsidiary of a publicly traded corporation.
It won't. You'll accomplish exactly the same thing if you go down to 435 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago and beat your head against the stone walls of Tribune Tower. And when you're done with that, all you'll have is a massive headache, and the building will still be there.
Just as we'll all be here, I hope, continuing to discuss the team we DO all love. And why do we love the Cubs?
For most of you, no matter what your age, it probably began when you were about 7 or 8 years old and your dad (or maybe your mom, or both) took you to Wrigley Field. And you were mesmerized by the magic of the green field, and the sights and sounds and smells, and yes, the baseball, no matter where the Cubs were in the standings.
Or, you came home from school in the days when the Cubs were on TV every afternoon, and Jack Brickhouse or Harry Caray became your surrogate dad or uncle or grandfather, bringing those sights and sounds into your home, maybe well enough so that you could almost smell the smells, too.
As you got older, if you're old enough to pre-date the first modern-era Cub division title in 1984, you learned that pennants and division championships were things that other teams won. And yes, that made you sad. And disappointed. And frustrated. And maybe even angry. But what it did, in part, was to help you learn to enjoy other things about baseball. A pitcher who threw a no-hitter. Players who hit tons of home runs, or stole a lot of bases, or played the field particularly well, performed as artists as well as athletes. You learned to study the history of the game, and how players, managers, owners, and yes, even fans, fit into the fabric of a sport that has been a major part of the history of this nation for more than a hundred and thirty years. The French-born American scholar Jacques Barzun said it best, writing in 1954, and you may have only heard the first part of this famous quote, not the second:
That isn't, incidentally, supposed to be a veiled slam at the Cubs as a "high-school team". What I'm trying to say is that there are plenty of things to love about baseball, that tell us much about who we are as human beings.
Another quote comes to mind here:
Sanders, who was known for droll ?one-liners,? probably meant the quote as a nonsensical witticism. However, it was transformed into the tag line for the strident Lombardian ethic which became part of the Culture war of the 1960s, and continues to influence a certain breed of athletic coach.
It's not likely to happen this summer. And there will be plenty of time to discuss whether the Cubs ought to sell off parts that might be useful to other teams, and when, and who might comprise next year's managerial and coaching staffs, whether it be those who are already there, or others.
In the meantime -- at last, this weekend, the weather is supposed to be summer-glorious in Chicago. There are plenty of things to love about going to a ballgame in beautiful summer weather, even if the product on the field isn't that terrific -- there's the sunshine, and watching history being made day-by-day, even if it's negative history, and the camaraderie of good friends likely sharing gallows humor about everything that we witness.
If you don't want to do this, if you want to have a bitchfest for the next four months -- well, that's surely your right, and I'd never stop you. At the same time, those who make this choice do not have the right to criticize those of us who do not wish to join them -- because joining them in the ways suggested above (boycotts, dumping season tickets, etc.) will have absolutely zero effect on the people making the decisions for the Cubs. They will decide in the way they think best.
Will that always BE best? Of course it won't. And that's when criticism is warranted, and will be given here.
I've been accused at times of loving the ballpark more than the team, and been asked if I'd give up Wrigley Field if I were guaranteed that would bring the Cubs a World Series title.
The answer is "of course I would", but I remind you that Red Sox fans were posed with the same question when ownership proposed demolishing Fenway Park and building a new one, much as the Yankees are going to be doing in New York over the next few years. The fan outcry was so loud that ownership backed off, made extensive Fenway renovations, and the Red Sox won anyway.
The point is: Wrigley Field is not the problem. The problem is -- not making good, sound baseball decisions. That is something we can and should all debate.
And with that in mind, I'm going to ask everyone here to take a deep breath and remember who we are -- we're all good people who love the Cubs, love the game and have the same goal here -- to see them win the World Series. Please try to be respectful to other posters here. There has been some fairly nasty stuff written recently, and I've given most of it a pass, because I know how frustrated we all are. I could, if I wanted to be trite, pull out the old Rodney King quote (which I'm sure you all know), but instead, I'll just ask all of you to remember that this isn't just words on a screen. There are real people behind each and every word written here, and I'd like to see all of you give the same respect for the posts of others, that you'd like to receive for your own.
Simple, I know, but it doesn't always happen.
Summer's coming. For the first time in four years, it appears it will come without much hope for our favorite baseball team, and that's been hard for all of us to deal with. So, let us proceed, day by day, to keep following the team, keep that tiny shred of hope for an absolute miracle, and barring that, confront the reality that faces us.
And instead of with sarcasm, let us articulately, with intelligence and creativity, try to posit solutions. Bag-on-the-head protests don't work, but you know what? The people in the suits do read these blogs. I'd like to think they'd take constructive and perceptive suggestions for change, more readily than angry, sneering, preening, condescending remarks.
When I say "keep the faith", I don't necessarily mean for this year, or even for tomorrow. I mean don't lose that love for the game and the Cubs that you've likely had since you've been a little kid.
For WHEN the Cubs finally win the World Series, that's what you'll feel like. And striving for that feeling is something none of us should ever lose.