What Is and What Should Never Be
Sunday at 9:54 pm
Here we go again, running on the treadmill of uncertainty, hoping there is reward for our persistence at the end. I don’t know about you, but all I’m feeling is tired. I love the history and the nostalgia. I enjoy reliving the Kirk Gibson hobbled home run and Kerry Wood tossing the most dominant game in baseball history. I’ve played along with the “random Cubs facts” and “make your all-time team” gimmicks that have begged for clicks over the interwebs the last couple months. It’s been entertaining, but is getting about as stale as the 17 cases of beer I stocked up on 3 months ago.
We need something fresh and clean. A Schwarbomb from Kyle, an Eephus pitch from Yu, or a patented back-pick from Willson. I think a live Javy-tag would make me faint, and I’d enjoy the pain that would surely follow. We need live baseball.
I gave up trying to write timely articles on the current situation long ago. By the time anyone could compile enough relevant information to produce something meaningful, the goalposts moved. Many other sites continue to do so, and it occupies our time and hunger for the game we love. We’ve urged our readers to support these sites, because it is their livelihood. Please continue to do so.
While no one can say with certainty what the opening of the official 2020 season will look like, the general consensus is there will be some form of baseball this season. What that will be is anyone’s guess. Numerous theories abound, and we have discussed many of the possibilities here in our limited posts. My personal belief is we will see an experimental game, using this uncertainty to work out bugs in changes the game wants to implement anyway. I won’t like it, but I understand it.
This season will be a wild-west shootout, and the eventual “Champion” won’t hold much more swag than the participation trophies that will be awarded to half the other teams. Jon Lester was asked about this scenario, and his response perfectly mirrored my own thoughts: these are unprecedented times, and we may as well do what we have to do. But, and a huge *BUT*, things go back to normal next season. There is the worry that there will be a movement to artificially inject permanent change. That can’t happen.
THIS IS THE END, BEAUTIFUL FRIEND
As we’ve seen, there is much uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of baseball. We don’t know how many players will be on a roster, what rules will be enforced, or which teams would be competing in a hypothetical postseason for glory that will certainly be historically marred with a bigger asterisk than the needles in Barry Bonds’ buttocks. Do we even know what players will play? There is something I know for sure, and it saddens me more than knowing Hammerin’ Hank will be seen by future generations as less of a slugger than Balco Barry:
The Cubs current competitive window, as Mr. John Arguello so brilliantly mapped out and led us through, is over. Done. It had been slowly creeping down, excruciatingly so for those those of us who saw the incompetence and hubris of management whose hand was lowering the sash, but Covid-19 slammed it shut.
Like many of you, my routine has been upended. Nights have become days, my decontamination protocol is longer than my grocery shopping list, and I don’t know the difference between Munday and Tuersday. I think I read this in a local obituary section, or I may have been dreaming:
The Theo Epstein competitive window, aka “The Window”, has passed away. It was five years old.
Though initially hatched in 2011, The Window wasn’t officially born until an improbable run in 2015. Against all odds, this underdog toddler exceeded expectations as it laid waste to established adults, culminating in a victory over it’s arch-enemy DirtyBirds that nearly caused the collapse of its home den.
Learning from the wounds of its initial failure, The Window matured rapidly. The young being dominated all competition in 2016, embarrassing everyone who dared challenge them, until finally meeting a worthy foe in Cleveland. Despite a decimated roster, the Indians showed strong, taking this dominant force into the last innings of a decisive Game 7, when a fluke HR by a guy who never, ever hits them proved too much for even Mother Nature. She had seen enough suffering of the hapless Chicago fanbase and intervened to award the spoils to the rightful victor.
Unfortunately, The Window didn’t age well. Despite all the promise in the world, an adolescent hangover was allowed to fester by a tolerant parent. The newly crowned “Big Men On Campus” were given the reigns to run their own wagon, and everyone enjoyed the ride.
Adulthood proved even more humbling, as basking in their former glory, a chronic abuse of credit cards, and the inability to properly raise their own children led The Window to an early exit from what should have been their prime years. As The Window’s doting following clung to hope despite overwhelming anchors attached by detached management, it finally succumbed, prematurely or humanely depending on your point of view, due to outside forces.
In lieu of flowers, The Window’s family asks for donations towards a humble front office and competent scouting and development infrastructure that could lead this once-great entity back to glory.
DANCING IN THE STREETS
We can never lay the fallen to rest without celebrating the triumphs of their existence. The existence of the Ricketts’ purchase of the franchise and the luring of Theo Epstein, and then Joe Maddon, will forever be known as the “Golden Age” of Cubs fandom. Whether you are a bandwagon fan or a life-long diehard, none of us has witnessed a more prosperous era. For that, I am eternally grateful. There has been no greater time than this current administration in the long history of my Cubs fandom.
What else can we say? We can bitch and moan and lament the lack of more success. “We should have won 5!” some will say. While I can’t entirely disagree, I also can’t help but just feel grateful for what we had. Go back and be truthful with your own thoughts about this rebuilding process that began with the sale of our team to an ownership group that actually had the goal of winning.
I can’t speak for any other fan, but my thought was “give me one Championship, just a taste. Please reward me, a life-long diehard who has loved my team through thick and (mostly) thin. Just one. Please validate all those postseason series’ that I endured and rooted for even though my team wasn’t involved, because my team was rarely involved. I went into nearly every season knowing we weren’t likely to be involved in the excitement at the end, but I rooted for my team anyway. Let me experience that taste of victory that every other fanbase gets to taste except ours. Why not ours, and what have we done to so upset the baseball Gods? Just one, please, and I can die a happy man.”
This window delivered, and I will be forever grateful.
AFTER HE TOOK FROM YOU EVERYTHING HE COULD STEAL…
There are so many details to be worked out before we can once again suit up and gleefully exclaim “Play Ball!”. Again, I could do research on what is being gossiped about yesterday and even today, up to the minute click-bait, and it would all be as useless as my adolescent plans of world domination. It doesn’t matter, right now.
How this partial season unfolds, and the effect it has on next season, will impact the Cubs fundamentally. I don’t know how they will address our overage of the salary tax threshold, but I certainly don’t see us being able to dump enough in-season salary now. Service-time issues abound, with the current agreement being any player who appears in even a single 2020 game will be credited with a full year of service. This language is ripe for abuse, and it surely will be abused.
Oh, by the way, the current CBA will expire after the 2021 season. All this stuff, the animosity and improv negotiations happening now, will linger into the next bargaining negotiations. That’s a scary enough thought, until I think about it a little more. These talks have begun now, and are being hashed out under the most unreal of circumstances. This isn’t going to be pretty, and I bet the little guy doesn’t prevail. That is one thing I am sure of.
So let’s enjoy whatever product they present to us for the remainder of this season. I will try, and I hope you do as well. But keep in mind that our organization was at a crossroads heading into this season, and a couple of those two available lanes have been blocked. Things will not be back to normal next season, even if we do play ball. This diversion disproportionately affects those who weren’t prepared, and in all honesty, that’s where our current path was headed. We were lost and confused, hoping for the best.
As is usually the case when one has a disjointed “plan” going forward, any unforeseen bumps can throw you way off the road.
I didn’t plan it this way, but this will be going out late Sunday/early Monday. Happy Memorial Day. Please take the time to honor and remember those who paid the ultimate price so that we can talk about baseball on the internet.
Thank you to all who have served.