Moving Goalposts

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There certainly has been some changes in how Cubs fans viewed the 2015 season. Most projections for the Cubs at the start of the year had them pegged somewhere between 82-85 wins. I was slightly more pessimistic given the Cubs penchant for underperforming their projections the past several seasons. I did write about the guys the Cubs could sell off it they did get off to a slow start and argued that Bryant should be called up to start the year given the tough schedule at the start of the year.

But a funny thing happened at the start of the season. The Cubs won, and they got off to their best start in years. Expectations began to change around this team because it seemed like things were coming together quicker. Kris Bryant came up and delivered on the promise that fans had been waiting on for a couple of years. The Cubs stood a mere game out of first place on April 28 and were four games over .500. The Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the year, and many Cubs fans started to genuinely believe.

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The Cubs stumbled for a bit after that first high water mark. The Cubs lost the series finale to Pirates on April 29th and then lost a series against the Brewers. After another series loss to the Milwaukee Brewers the Cubs record was back to exactly .500 on May 10. Expectations began to reset again with many Cubs fan reactions mirroring Major League.

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The ups and downs of the season continued as the Cubs swept the Mets, and expectations again shifted back to playoffs or bust for many it seemed. The good times continued to roll until May 21st with the Cubs achieving their high water mark of six games over .500 following a series win against the San Diego Padres. But the Cubs find themselves mired in another downturn right now with three series lost in the past four. The only non loss was a split in the rain shortened series with the Royals. Most fans seem to be back to Major League groundskeeper status with the Cubs.

The up and down is to be expected with a roster that is historically young as Matthew Trueblood wrote at BP Wrigleyville. And really the measure of the success of this season isn’t going to be fully encapsulated by the won-loss total at the end of the season. In a number of ways the season is a success simply by the young core emerging in front of our very eyes. There are growing pains still going on, but the Cubs have a majority of the lineup filled with players you can reasonably expect to be in Chicago next season. That is something that has been unheard of in the previous three seasons, and each one of those players at times has shown why they were so highly thought of in the first place.

That isn’t to say that it isn’t fair to experience disappointment if the Cubs fail to make the  postseason. This is a team that the won-loss record does matter, even if it isn’t the primary indicator of a successful season yet. Just try to keep in the back of your mind that a season can both be successful and disappointing.

 

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