Taste The Pain
Wow, it’s been so long since I posted here. Really got to work on that. Promise I will. But I’ve said that before, haven’t I?
Obviously, this week, and really this offseason since the hiring of Joe Maddon, would inspire any Cubs fan to write something. Sonnets, poetry, prose, ransom notes, whatever your chosen outlet might be. So it’s no wonder that I feel the need to come out of baseball hiding, at least back to my own blog.
I’m not here to analyze what Jon Lester and Miguel Montero and Jason Hammel mean for the Cubs’ 2015 fortunes. There are plenty of people who can do that and probably a whole lot better than I can. There’s certainly time enough for that, as we’ll probably spend all of spring training doing so. Needless to say, it’s good. There’s your analysis of the day.
There’s also been plenty of writing about what it means to the Cubs, their fans, and where they are as an organization. You’ve heard, “Phase 2,” or “rebuild over,” and various other things. They’re all true.
But for me, I think this winter has signified something else. I think it’s signaled that an end to the numbness is over, and the real pain can return.
That’s not to be cynical, because I truly believe that somewhere in the near future here a season is going to end the way we’ve all dreamed it would. But for the last five seasons, the Cubs haven’t made me or a lot of you feel anything at all. We knew what the plan was when Epstein took over. We knew before that that Hendry’s last two Cubs teams were utterly doomed from the start. Back then there weren’t even prospects to watch. The Cubs were a distraction at best, and excuse to not do something else.
Sure, we got excited when various prospects were called up. Be it Rizzo, Baez, Alcantara, Soler, even Olt, Grimm, Ramirez, Arrieta’s development. We watched for those reasons and given where we were they were certainly entertaining enough. But we didn’t watch them in the context of wins and losses and where it put the Cubs. Some of us probably didn’t even look at the record. Sure, we kept a tab on whether they could break 70 wins this year, but not with a passion.
When Soler turned a Pat Neshek pitch into plasma in August, I didn’t get excited because it sealed a win. The win didn’t matter. The display of Soler’s power, and only that, was what mattered. When Baez actually made contact and it made a sound that probably could kill a flock of birds or disband public gatherings, it wasn’t because it vaulted the Cubs to within three games or capped a win. It was merely that display and what it could portend to. The Arrieta runs at no-hitters, the Hendricks effectiveness, the utter domination of the pen, they were all enjoyed on their own. They only had a long-term context.
Whether we like it or not, whether the Cubs like it or not, we will watch the standings in 2015. We think they can compete. And that’s where the misery comes in. You won’t shrug off a loss to the Pirates as ok simply because Soler or Baez went 3-for-4. Losing two of three to the Cardinals won’t be somewhat ok because Arrieta shut them out in the one win. Losing streaks are going to hurt now, just as winning streaks are going to feel something other than fleeting. There will be pressure now.
But pain is preferable to numbness. We’ve had the emotion taken out of Cubs baseball for a while, and on some level the break was beneficial. But that’s over now. The added spice of caring, REALLY CARING, about the result is back. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to throw something after a blown save. To be brought off the couch because of a comeback win. To actually enjoy a win at Wrigley not just for the day out, but what it means to that very season. To have it all have context again.
We’ve been in slumber. It’s time to wake up and except the cuts and bruises again. It’s time to be alive. God, I can’t wait.