The clock struck midnight on the Cubs season as the Mets swept them out of the playoffs in the NLCS. While the 27th out was being recorded, the fiancé and I turned to the DVR to catch up on a past NCIS episodes from the previous week. After the episode was done, she turned to me and simply stated:
“Well, you are taking this Cubs thing well.”
I understood her confusion considering the emotional toll the Blackhawks loss to the Kings in the 7th game of the conference final had on me two years ago or the Bulls giving up against the Cavs last year in the playoffs… and not to mention the Bears every week of my life.
I imagined she was expecting an exhale of unsuitable language, followed by me stomping around the apartment with smoke coming out of my ears but that was simply not the case with the Cubs this post season. I was fully content with how this year went for the Cubs and was not going to tarnish a brilliant campaign by dwelling on the most recent loss.
In 2007 and 2008 the Cubs were swept in back-to-back post seasons by the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Whether the Cubs were a better team than their opponents is beside the point, those Cubs teams were under so much pressure to win it all, that they fell victim the pressure from a fan base that was looking to forget a 100+ years of bad baseball. That pressure forced those teams to lose sight of the fact that they were just playing baseball which paralyzed those players when it came time to perform.
“Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.” – Joe Maddon
Joe Maddon has a cornucopia of great quotes from his brief time as Cubs skipper but the above one is his best. Many people think that he was only directing this quote to his players and coaches but it was also for Cubs Nation. As a fan of the Cubs, one should enjoy Maddon’s outlook as he has been laying a foundation of confidence for his team so when there are bumps in the road they can overlook them and move on to the next step.
The next step is developing a core of young players for the future while adding pitching depth to bolster a mediocre starting rotation. Thanks to some great drafting by Theo and Jed, the Cubs future is just getting started thanks to the talents of Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Solar, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
Just getting started? At worst, the Cubs will have the services of Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, Baez and Rizzo for the next 6 years. Oh, and Solar for 5.
This team is primed for multiple trips to the playoffs as they arrived on the scene a year early and making the “final four” in their first year is a great start.
Stay tuned Cubs fans… there is more to come.
On a side note, Cubs fans should be unfazed by other team’s fans “trolling” them on social media or in person because it’s not worth their time. Any baseball fan worth their salt can see what the Cubs are building and know that winning is in their future.