I am not a professional writer. I think I’m more of an amateur rambler. So this is going to be a ramble of sorts. I think I’m much better at writing science-y stuff where I have an experiment (or a group of experiments) set up and can then mold them into a story, and this lends itself to more train-of-thought type exercises where I frame it in the following manner:
- We have a question;
- We should probably figure out how to solve it;
- This is what we know;
- This is what we don’t know;
- This is what I did;
- And here’s an answer;
- So where do we go from here?
And that’s scientific writing in a nutshell. It doesn’t always work on a Cubs or sports blog, but it’s just the way I am.
Roobs asked me the other night why I blog. The reason why I do anything, aside from amusing myself, is to learn. That’s part of why I’m determined to be a teacher and why I’m excited to educate the next generation of scientists. I do the same thing with fans of baseball (Cubs fans or otherwise, and whether you actually like World Series Dreaming or not). I believe that there are many people out there smarter than me and I’m not so arrogant that I am set in my ways or opinions. If there’s a better idea out there, I find it and I embrace it until either I or someone else develop a better idea. And there’s obviously a reason why I’m random blogger #198374 on the internet instead of a general manager; I’m pretty sure I’d run the Royals into the ground much faster than Dayton Moore can.
But the search for answers to good questions, that’s both fulfilling and amusing. We all like baseball or else we wouldn’t be so passionate when Carlos Marmol craps the bed after James Russell blew his third save. That example I just laid out is also part of the reason why I do what I do. I don’t like to subscribe to the status quo of scapegoating and simplifying; I want to dig a bit deeper, to the best of my ability as a non-statistician and a non-professional baseball observer, to see what really happened. And so I use Google, and Baseball-Reference, and FanGraphs etc., tools that are available on the internet for such purposes–because the internet is much more useful than just cat pictures and porn. When I do find the answers, I like to share them and discuss them with people who also like baseball (and preferably, people who like the Cubs). And I like associating myself with some of the smarter fans on the internet, many of whom you can find on our blog roll.
As fans we should be passionate or else there’s no enjoyment out of a silly kid’s game. But we should always be able to keep things in perspective. Yes, it’s annoying that the Cubs are this bad, and you can hear my lament (and bad singing) on the Dreamcast. Yes, it’s terrible that the Cubs couldn’t sign B.J. Upton or Josh Hamilton this past offseason…oh wait, maybe it’s not that bad. Yes, we should be annoyed that all our shit keeps breaking. And as fans we should have the privilege and responsibility of questioning what the front office and ownership does with the money we throw at them (I haven’t actually thrown any money at them yet, but I’ll probably do so later on hehe). But we should also be mindful that there’s a reason why the new President of Baseball Operations and his new general manager have been selected to head up the chore of reversing a dysfunctional franchise’s fortunes. We should understand that they know things that we do not know about player development, player health, and transactions that most fans simply either aren’t interested in or are ill-informed of. Remember what I said about being surrounded by smart people? It’s entirely possible that the Cubs’ front office now has more brain power than all of the Cubs’ blogosphere combined, and that’s a cerebral source that I’d love to tap into.
Since I’m not a professional writer, I want to share two stories from a writer who is a consummate professional. Joe Posnanski is one of the best sportswriters in existence and he has written in depth about the Cubs. Nearly two years ago, before Tom Ricketts hired Theo Epstein, he wrote about the history of the Cubs and why they were so bad for so long. This past offseason, he wrote a nice article about the slow path back towards relevance for the Cubs. Both of those are great reads and I’m sure even the most jaded of Cubs fans can appreciate how absolutely horrible the Cubs have been over the years, except for those six playoff appearances since World War II ended.
I have seen fans pine for the days before Ricketts bought the team. Somehow the team was so much better when the post-War Wrigleys and the Tribune were running it. They saw the success of 2007 and 2008 and don’t realize that ultimately it was a smokescreen for a pre-sale asset boost by a company that couldn’t even run its newspaper right. They didn’t see the terrible drafts and the steady destruction of farm talent that occurred while the Cubs got to the playoffs (but failed, that sucked), and that was the team that the Ricketts family inherited. But given all the steps that they!are taking to right the ship, even after initial distrust and headscratching, I’m glad the Ricketts family bothered to take on the challenge.
What about the on-field product? Well, the trigger for this blog wasn’t actually the fan complaints but something Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe said:
Nava: .298./400/.488 8 HRs, 33 RBIs, 0.5 million. Carl Crawford .301/.358./470 5 HRs, 13 RBIs $20.8 million.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) June 2, 2013
That would be Daniel Nava, who was actually signed by the Red Sox under one Theo Epstein as an undrafted free agent. Carl Crawford was also signed by Theo, of course, but the guys who got sent to the Dodgers after Ben Cherington got the job aren’t doing too badly either. Adrian Gonzalez is doing fine and so is Crawford when he’s not broken. But the jab by Pete here (and by fans who for whatever reason think Theo is overrated, which he may very well be but hey, can’t argue with results) is that somehow the Red Sox got the better end of the deal post-Theo, but did not clarify that Nava’s signing was well-within Theo’s tenure and during the Red Sox’s impressive run of contention.
My point here is this…we as Cubs fans, while our major league team sucks balls, has one of the best front offices assembled now who are more than capable of evaluating and obtaining talent (Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Anthony Rizzo come to mind) as well as an ownership who are committed to bolstering the foundation of the franchise so the past 60+ years of suck don’t happen again. There’s an emphasis on the Cubs Way, an organization-wide philosophy to someday get the Cubs to the same level as the Reds and Cardinals. They’ve done it before. The Red Sox under Theo made it to four ALCS rounds and won two pennants and championships using a mixture of whatever came before, prospects, trades and free agent acquisitions. That’s what they’re trying to do now, and while it’s fine to somewhat applaud the Marlins for what they did in grabbing two World Series wins in between fire sales, which would you rather have…the Red Sox model (or the Cardinals or Reds, more appropriately) where the Cubs are in the playoffs nearly every season, or the Marlins model, where you never know when that championship will come?
I think I know what I’d rather have. Thank you for reading. Go Cubs.