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I give up. It's time to just be a fan for a while.
I've had massive reservations about the way this Cub team has been built. And I've gone on and on about them. Tanking three seasons was not OK with me, especially given ownership's unwillingness to throw fans the tiniest of bones. (Would it have killed ya to knock a buck off the price of a ticket when the team was losing on purpose? We know the billionaire Ricketts family would have somehow survived the financial hit.)
When people yammered at me about Theo Epstein's glorious "Plan," I always pointed out that a big part of it was Ricky Renteria.
But I was a tiny minority, a fraction of a single percent. During the season after friends and I gave up our season tickets, the season the Cubs declined to compete for a third year in a row, attendance actually increased. That was also the season the team celebrated 100 years of losing by dubbing it a "Century at Wrigley." The lemmings also known as cutesy Cubbie fans wouldn't stop buying tickets.
And then the miracle of a sloppily written contract enabled manager Joe Maddon to opt out of his deal in Tampa Bay and sign on with the Cubs. The team survived more penny pinching at the beginning of last year (sending Kris Bryant to the minors for two weeks despite it being obvious to everyone he was major-league ready so they could theoretically save money on his contract seven years down the road). There was no denying that last year was nothing but a huge success.
So here we are, going on a 108 years without a World Series title on the North Side, and the Cubs have opened the season like a popular World Series pick should, with six wins in their first seven games. They have combined with the White Sox to go 11-3 in the first seven days of the season in Chicago.
The weather even cooperated Monday night with the game time temperature topping 50 degrees and blue skies prevailing after a week-and-a-half of cold rain and intermittent snow. Kyle Schwarber's shocking season-ending injury last week did some damage but the team has continued to post successful results in the big galoot's absence.
It was fascinating to watch the White Sox open the season with three wins in four games in Oakland - a place they couldn't buy a winning series for about a decade before the last few seasons - because the fortunes of the Athletics and the Cubs pivoted after one key trade in the middle of the 2015 season and the teams have headed in opposite directions ever since.
Enough time has passed at this point to declare that Epstein totally fleeced Oakland general manager Billy Beane when he traded him pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for prospects at that time. The leading youngster in that deal was of course shortstop Addison Russell and there was Russell launching the bomb of a three-run home run late last night to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead they would not relinquish.
Russell is a picture of professionalism at virtually all times on the field and off. He admitted to "pimping" after last night's home run - something he virtually never does - because the circumstances demanded it. He was right.
And so the A's continue to sink toward another last-place finish in the AL West as the Cubs take up residence in the top spot in the NL Central.
As Russell rounded the bases, I could feel myself letting go of some of the animus toward the people who would have you believe the Cubs have played all of this perfectly - that they are the deserving benefactors of an amazing, meticulous plan.
This is a remarkable collection of talented and determined players led by a manager at the absolute top of his game. Time to just enjoy it.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our case of the Mondays, except when he writes on Tuesday. He welcomes your comments.
Adelyn Vigil sometimes dreams of volleyball. Texas Republicans are standing in her way.Continue reading "'Just Let Me Play Sports'" »
Posted on Oct 11, 2021