After the Chicago Cubs got swept by the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend, including a no-hitter (which was pretty cool, to be honest), it’s easy to feel down. We are fans of a sports team, and we are humans capable of and susceptible to emotion and kneejerk reactions. I think it’s fine to be very disappointed in a poor weekend. That’s natural, and it’s acceptable behavior from fans in my opinion. It’s actually expected, and I think manager Joe Maddon and his charges will own it. That’s part of their job is to remain accountable to their triumphs and failures on the field.
Anyway, after today’s game, the Cubs are now at 51-46, and about to drop another game in the wild card standings to the resurgent San Francisco Giants. The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing well. It’s basically a seven-team mix for five spots in the National League, with the St. Louis Cardinals leading the way as usual (bleh).
I don’t really buy into the doom and gloom though. Then again, I haven’t had an opportunity to watch the games live or anything since I’ve been traveling and then readjusting to life in the Central Time Zone. But I do have numbers, and numbers can be fun (with the usual caveat that you need scouting info blah blah blah).
So far this year, with that 51-46 record I told you about just a moment ago, the 2015 Cubs have scored 369 runs (nice) and given up 368 including Sunday’s loss. Their expected record should be just a shade over .500 at 49-48, yet they’ve won two games more than expected. This was a similar differential as last year when Rick Renteria was the manager of a much worse (if you can still believe it) squad. Yeah, the offense needs work. But there’s only so much I can do to reassure you that it’s all going to be okay this year and most likely beyond. See, it was never about this year, no matter how much hype and hope we threw into it. We’re hoping for a sustained run of awesomeness like the Yankees and Braves, or the modern-day St. Louis Cardinals are showing now. We’re also hoping to see that magical “click” like when the Kansas City Royals finally turned the corner last year and are making news (so far) this year, along with the aforementioned Pirates. Rebuild plans don’t materialize as quickly as you may see in your video games at home, but these Cubs are way ahead of schedule. And that’s probably why so many of you are upset and freaking out right now.
See, it was different before the season started, when everyone figured that this team would only place third in a strong division. I think we were all okay with a 2015 Cubs squad that would win around 85 games or so. 51-46 translates to…85 wins. Interesting.
Somehow in the midst of this season the expectations changed, which I guess is normal. Even I’m guilty of that, as you’ve seen many times when we posted the standings with the Cubs solidly in the mix for a playoff spot. But think about this: we’re at the trade deadline very soon, scoreboard watching every day NOT to track draft position, but to see whether the Cubs can sneak into the playoffs. We have a team full of young (albeit struggling) talent that is working out the kinks now so that later on this year and in the years afterwards, they grow into the juggernaut we think they will become. I choose not to dwell on feeling crappy about a stretch of four or five games in a 162-game season, particularly when the Cubs will be, at worst, 2.5 games back of a playoff spot with 65 games left to play. My math isn’t as good as when I took calculus in college, but I think these Cubs have plenty of time to make up that deficit.
You may also notice that I generally don’t respond to negativity or trolls on Facebook, Twitter, or this blog. I simply don’t have the time or energy for that. Baseball is a passion of mine, one that my wife understands but (deservedly) roasts me about here and there, something that I voluntarily commit my time to for free at the school I teach at. But it’s merely a hobby, because I’m more focused on putting food on the table, teaching young men how to succeed in life on and off the field, and making sure my family gets the life that they deserve. Dwelling on the results of a single game (or even a series) in a long season makes no sense to me. So I don’t bother with that, because if I’m going to have a hobby, I’m going to have some fun with it.
Ah, this guy gets it. I watched Ant-Man! https://t.co/evLlIHNjZb
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) July 26, 2015
I knew there was a Cubs game on Sunday. I also knew of the games on Friday and Saturday, too. The beautiful thing about baseball is that it goes on just about every day so I can pick and choose what I want to watch if it’s available. I decided to play softball on Friday (we lost by a run, but I had fun…maybe I don’t have the right attitude?) and to take my kid on a Cub Scout hike on Saturday before we came home to play. On Sunday we went to watch Ant-Man (which was awesome). I only followed the games on MLB.com and Cubs Twitter. It wasn’t a horrible decision, though I did miss Cole Hamels‘ pitching gem (yeah, it was a no-hitter). I stayed informed and kept an eye on the transaction wire; I just didn’t watch or involve myself directly because it’s coming to the point where I won’t have time anymore, as school is about to start up again.
I’m not going to tell you how to be a fan; that’s not my place. I’m simply telling you how I choose to “cope” with “loss” here, which to be honest is kind of dumb since this is baseball. It’s something we all love and cherish, but it’s a kid’s game, not foreign policy or some of the much more important things going on in the world or at home in our country today. While everyone was sharpening their pitchforks, my reaction to a series sweep was essentially:
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) July 26, 2015
And so I read about Ant-Man and how the movie fits the Marvel Cinematic Universe, played a game with the boy (he won, and he was excited about it), walked the dog, took the family out to Chipotle and ice cream, not all in that order. I also followed the Hall of Fame goings-on as two of my favorite players were among the four inducted:
…and then he did this:
I want to emphasize not the home run, which was great and allowed for interesting trivia, but more so the atmosphere. From my vantage point on the video, the bleachers and stands were still relatively full despite the Cubs getting blown out late in the game. The fans seemed to be having a great time. The players and Joe Maddon congratulated Ross as he came back into the dugout and didn’t seem too down on themselves. That’s just one of the many things that I think Maddon has been exceptional at this year, is keeping his players loose and not too glum after getting their butts handed to them. And if the players themselves aren’t too worried…then maybe we shouldn’t be either.
So maybe they throw Kyle Schwarber in left field forever. Maybe they trade for Cole Hamels tomorrow. Maybe Starlin Castro busts out of his slump. That’s all out of our control, though, so my philosophy is to just worry about what I can control, and that is my attitude. I choose not to be miserable.
I do this blog for fun and I also do Twitter and Facebook for fun, often times to a fault (something I hope my wife will keep slapping me about, because I need to prioritize, hehe). So let’s keep it fun, eh?
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