Guest Column: No, not really
Today's guest column will be by regular contributor Kurt Evans. Mr. Evans is best known for annoying the crap out of caustic Cub fans, as well as for spewing optimism as though he'd just eaten a bad optimistic dinner that was tainted in some way. He also lives in Canada, but was born in the Buffalo region of Western New York, otherwise known as the stinky armpit of New York State.
Before I begin my guest article, I really have to thank the appropriate people for this opportunity. First, I'd like to thank myself, since I'm actually a regular contributor of Goat Riders, and therefore was able to provide myself with this opportunity to write a guest column. I'd also like to thank the Good Lord, who has seen fit to curse my favorite ball club into almost a century of mediocrity, perhaps because Tinker, Evers, and Chance also developed a Satanic ritual of some kind, I don't know. But most importantly, I'd like to thank you, the reader, for, uh, reading this. So, thanks.
I used to be a pretty optimistic guy about the Cubs. I'd defend their every move. When the Cubs signed Matt Stairs, I wrote an article proclaiming "CUBS SIGN MATT STAIRS!!" rather than "CUBS SIGN MATT STAIRS??!" In other words, I toed the company line, although my part in the company was just as a paying customer, just like most everybody else.
What was I thinking?
That isn't to say that the Cubs haven't gotten better through the years. I'm sure that during the dark days of 1994, fans everywhere would've been ecstatic to know that ten years later, the Cubs would be completing their second consecutive winning season (and third in four years). During the depressing days of '99, I have no doubt that fans would've been overjoyed to hear that the strong pitching of Kerry Wood would literally carry the club into the NLCS only four short years later. Yes, that's right, there was a time when we Cub fans would've been satisfied with an appearance in the NLCS. Those days are over.
I guess something must've happened on that chilly October evening, when Steve Bartman casually reached out to catch a baseball fouled into the stands. Something bad must've occurred, because Cubs fans are no longer satisfied with 88 wins in a season. They're no longer okay with making the NLCS once a decade. We're just tired of losing, I guess. We're tired of being the laughing stock of baseball. Of being the butt of every joke. We don't love our losers anymore.
But, maybe we've gone too far.
The baseball season lasts six months. 162 games of near-continuous play. Yet, after one bad first-inning, Cubs fans were booing and heckling Kerry Wood. After one blown save, Cubs fans sent LaTroy Hawkins off the mound in a chorus of boos. After a handful of late inning strikeouts, Cubs fans sent Korey ...er, Corey Patterson to the bench amid loud booing.
It's been twelve games, guys.
Let's look at baseball's winningest team, the New York Yankees. Last year, the 101-win Yankees didn't start out too well. In fact, after 19 games, they were a paltry 8-11. They'd just finished a four-game losing streak. Not exactly a great start. I'm sure Steinbrenner's head was ready to explode. But hey, the season didn't end a day later. In fact, by the All Star break, they were 55-31. They even had time to lose 5 of 6 games the week before the break came to pass, yet they still had that good of a record.
In the second half, the Yankees again had a few slides. They went 1-6 at one point in mid August. They had streaks where they lost as many as they won. And their fans - perhaps the most demanding in all of baseball - still saw their team win 101 games on the season.
There will be losing streaks. There will be blown saves. There will be late inning strikeouts. There will be badly pitched first innings. But you know what? There will also be another 150 games this season. 150 opportunities to Get It Right. 150 chances to win. A 6-6 start is utterly meaningless. Hell, just look at the Yankees. They're 4-8. They've lost 4 straight, and 6 out of their last 7. Does anyone doubt that they'll be in the playoffs?
So hey, Cubs fans, calm down a little. Sure, we're cursed with an idiot manager. Ok, we have a leadoff man who likes to swing at pitches that are low and outside. Yeah, we have a closer who spazes out any time he's trying to protect a one-run lead. But you know what? We're going to win. A lot. More than last year. We're going to make the playoffs. If the closer can't close, it's cool, Borowski is coming back. If the leadoff man can't walk, that's alright, Hairston will find a spot in there somewhere. Jim Hendry knows how to make trades, and if this team is lacking come June, I guarantee you they won't be come August. It's only the second week of the season. Let's see how things look after the second month.
You can read Kurt Evans on a regular basis at the best damned Cubs site in baseball, Goat Riders of the Apocalypse. You can also see him live at the improv four nights a week, where he cleans tables, empties the garbage, and cries in the shadows.