Shut Up, Experts
I feel like I spend most of my time writing about Cubs fan psychosis. But as the spring training games kick off today, we’re not left with much else.
The avalanche started long ago this winter. Probably when Jon Lester signed signaled it. But you’ve seen it as spring training started, and you’ll see it more and more as the season approaches. Grantland’s Jonah Keri was just the latest, but follows in the footsteps of many other experts who are predicting big things for the Cubs this season. Not next one, but this one, like winning 90 or more games (which doesn’t sound ridiculous to me but still an improvement of 20 games isn’t done all that often).
And every time I read one, I cringe. Because I’m a lunatic, you see.
It’s not because I don’t believe it, because I do think it only takes one or two unexpected performances or slices of luck for the Cubs to compete for a playoff spot this season, and only a couple more for them to actually threaten the division. That’s certainly their attitude.
However, a lot of Cubs fans would agree that one of the worst parts of being a Cub fan is being the object of derision from pretty much everyone else in the world. We can claim we don’t care what others think like Yankees fans, but it doesn’t usually work that way. And the more the Cubs are built up this season the farther they can fall, and it’ll be a new raft of taunts we’ll get to sift through. It’s been almost 12 years but someone just has to say “Bartman” to me and my insides basically boil for a multitude of reasons. I doubt that ever goes away.
So if the Cubs fall flat on their face this season, and that could happen with injuries or the kids finding life at the top difficult, there won’t be a shortage of other writers and bloggers drawing a fair amount of glee from it again. Always the whipping boy. Our desires to just be under the radar and be “just another fan base” will never come true, I suppose. Or maybe they’re just mine.
Add to that we’ve become a pessimistic lot, if only to protect our own feelings. We believe, we want to get excited but we’re so accustomed to disappointment that any proclamation from a baseball expert/writer is just more ammo into how it could all go wrong. Because we know what happens when we buy in fully, even if at those times every fiber of our being told us not to.
I knew the Cubs were going to win the World Series when Matt Clement shut down the Marlins in Game 4. I knew the Cubs were going to win the World Series when they acquired Nomar. I knew they were going to win the World Series when they got Rich Harden. I knew they were going to win the World Series when they swept the Brewers in Milwaukee four straight at the end of July ’08 by a combined score of 209-3. Where’s that left me since?
Mostly though, with every prediction piece or projection that comes out, the lens only focuses more on the Cubs this season. They are going to be the most watched team, and I’m not sure it’s even close. The Giants have won three of the past five World Series, and I feel like they’re still an afterthought. The Yankees are going to blow. The Red Sox have a rotation that would define “mediocre.” Sure, the Dodgers will share some of the spotlight.
But when under the microscope, every fault of being part of Cubs nations comes into clearer relief. I’m still more excited for this season than I have been in a long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t dread some things that are coming as well.
I’ll never be happy I guess. Not til that 27th out late in October is recorded.