The Cubs Convention is coming up, and while I’m not going, the bulk of Team WSD will be in attendance from the Opening Ceremonies on. Set phasers to full meatball, because Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has dropped a bomb:
“It’s going to happen this year,” Rizzo said. “It’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to play, we’re going to win the NL Central. Quote me on that. We should be the team, with all due respect to every other team, they’re just as good talent wise, but we’re going to do some things this year. That’s what we’re expecting. That’s what we’re putting our sights on. We’re not going to accept anything else.”
This brightened up a portion of Cubdom, including some teammates:
Anthony Rizzo tells media “Cubs will win the division in 2015 ” Jake Arrieta concurred and loves Rizzo’ s confidence .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 15, 2015
Of course, the internet responded:
Anthony Rizzo is making me all tingly inside. #Cubs
— Born on 3rd CubsBlog (@BornOnThirdCubs) January 15, 2015
Derrick Goold, of course, is the St. Louis Cardinals beat reporter (and a pretty good one) so he needs to get in his digs. Rizzo pretty much invited that, but there’s nothing really wrong with what he said. He’s a rising star, he’s developing into a leader, and he’s confident. It happens, and what else is an athlete supposed to say during the offseason when the games aren’t even being played yet?
Reporter: Anthony how do you think you’ll do this year? Rizzo: We’ll be happy to crack .500 and finish 3rd in the central
— Tommy Meyers (@TommyM44) January 15, 2015
So are we supposed to get upset because Rizzo made a statement that has a statistical possibility of coming true?
Anthony Rizzo’s bold statement will/won’t support the narrative people do/don’t want it to support. — Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) January 15, 2015
Or are we just trying to make mountains out of semantic molehills again?
HOLY SHIT GUYS AND GALS THIS ATHLETE JUST USED AN AUXILIARY VERB TO EXPRESS INTENT. SEE MY COLUMN.
— Mercurial Outfielder (@MOutfielder) January 15, 2015
At the end of all this preseason internet posturing, it doesn’t really matter. The Cubs are projected to win about 83 games. That’s just a projection, and doesn’t include manager magic, random acts of God or Back to the Future Nostradamus, etc. I think my reaction to all this is simply: The Cubs, like the rest of MLB, will have to slog through 162 games and try to win a majority of them. They have a tough road, as we know, with the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates still in contention mode and having both made the playoffs recently. We also know this:
The Cubs are set up with a TON of good young talent and are on the right side of the contention axis in that graphic. We also know that, while the Cubs aren’t going to sell out for 2015, they have enough confidence that Theo Epstein was able to start talking about the window of opportunity, enough to lure big fish like Joe Maddon and Jon Lester into the fold. Do they necessarily need to make another huge deal, as Cubs Twitter has suggested? I’m not sure that it’s such a terrible thing to let it ride, get that .500+ record in 2015 and then really go for it in 2016 while hoping for a surprise come this October.
It’s not farfetched to think that the Cubs can give the Pirates and Cardinals some trouble this year (not to mention the rest of MLB). It doesn’t take too much of a leap of faith to think that the Cubs can sneak into the wild card, and it’s just another step after that to win the division. Statistically possible. Likely? We’ll see.
If it doesn’t happen, I think Cubs fans will be disappointed but we have realistic enough expectations that it won’t be devastating. But if it DOES happen…well, Rizzo gets to say “I told you so.” Which isn’t a bad thing.
So lighten up, internet.