Today's lesson for you kids - be nicer to us older Cub fans
I understand many of us who come here frequently have been fans for less than ten years, because you're young. That's how it is. You are fans of a team with a Playoff past, and three division titles in the past seven years. A team that, in your perspective, has been as competitive as the Cardinals and Astros, and way better than the Pirates and Reds. The Cubs have ALWAYS been a good team, as far as you're concerned.
This year, things aren't working out so well so far. Yes, our bullpen gacked up some games early on, then Lee and Ramirez stopped hitting, and before your knew it, pretty much everyone except Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin stopped hitting. Now we look up, it is mid-June, and we are seven games below .500. But you preach patience, because after all, for the entire history of your following the Cubs, they have been a good team, outside of those couple of years after Dusty Baker died but for some reason nobody saw fit to replace him with somebody else.
Your Chicago Cubs could make up an 8-game deficit in a couple of weeks, so you aren't worried.
The Derrek Lee you know will start hitting, now that it is hot. The Alfonso Soriano you know will snap into one of his patented streaks any minute now and carry us for 10 days or so. The Aramis Ramirez you know is just...too...good of a player to continue as he has. The Carlos Zambrano you know has been tinkered and dicked with this year, and once he gets back into the groove, is going to dominate the second half of the year.
You know this because all these guys have done it before, and since we live in a common law nation, we believe in these precedents, that history is an indicator of future performance. You have faith that all this will happen.
Yes, but I too have precedents. I have told you what i have seen already: i see several guys who are making 8-figure salaries who are not earning their keep. i understand that we all have finite lifetimes, as well as finite careers, and based on some consistently poor analysis, we have several guys in key positions who are simultaneously hitting the wall.
Between Soriano (yes, still streaky, but not as strong and flexible at 34 as he was at 27), Zambrano (a power pitcher with diminished power from 8 years of high pitch counts), Lee (older and never truly 'clutch'), Ramirez (either injured, ill or off of the juice), Silva (apparently his deal with Satan was short-term), Fukudome (merely good enough to thrive while the rest of the league rounds into shape in the early spring, but not good enough to keep up the rest of the year), Dempster and Lilly (who were never more than second and third starters)?
None of these guys are tradeable. You really can't release them. You can't send them to the minors, except for rehabs. You say that's a good thing because these are my heroes. What do I see? There's the prohibitively expensive core of your team who is on steep decline. This is what I see. Now, you wonder, how can I think that? Why so negative? These things never happen like this?
Oh, no? How about after 1989, when we counted on the core of Dawson, Sutcliffe, Bielecki, Walton, Vance Law, Dunston, and yeah, Sandberg? Or after 1984, when we counted on continued brilliance from Cey, Matthews, Durham, Bowa, Jody Davis? Not to mention the ENTIRE five man rotation who spent some time on the DL the next year (all five at ONCE for one 8-day stretch), and none of them ever approached their former level of efficiency as starters again. (Of course, one of them gave up the booze and became the greatest closer ever, for Tony LaRussa).
How about the entire 1969 Cubs team, all of which were (effectively) out of baseball by 1974? They all grew old, at once! Then, the period between 1969 and 1984, when we brought in one former all-star after another (Joe Pepitone, Rick Monday, Bobby Murcer, Dave Kingman, Bobby Bonds) only to sit and watch them fizzle out, one after the other. From 1973 to 1984, they NEVER finished above .500. In 1977, they were 30 games OVER .500 at one point, and they gave it ALL back at the end. Every single year, there was legitimate hope in the spring, and every single fall, more losses than wins.
So, if the question was: "When have you ever seen several guys just lose it, ALL at once? It isn't possible?", your answer is, oh, yes, it can, and it has, here, in Chicago, several times. This is the precedent I know. And when I look at the so-called Core of the 2007-2008 teams, this is what I see.
The people who are the fans of this team prior to this decade have seen the 2010 version of this movie before, and it has never ended well. Not once. Could it have a happy ending, this time? I.....suppose anything's possible. Please, though, forgive me if I seem skeptical.