Cub fan culture
A couple of times now in the past few months, I've spoken with some Cub fans who work in the media (one in radio, the other for ESPN). They both said something that strikes me as being extremely interesting. They commented on how hard it will be for them to get excited about the Cubs during the regular season because last October was so disappointing. They both said that it will be hard to be fully emotionally onboard until the Cubs return to the playoffs.
My response to both of them was that that is how it should be, and I've been beating my drum on this topic sporadically during the off season. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Giants, and Angels have a very strong fan base of people who get bitterly, miserably upset if their team fails to win. They aren't satisfied with any season in which their teams fall short of an October playoff appearance, and even then they are upset if their teams fail to reach the World Series.
The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, have a long history of not making the playoffs. Sometimes - like in 1998 - it's great just to be along for the ride, but at this point we are finally beginning to reach that place where anything short of the ride is a serious disappointment. Getting to watch ball games in Beautiful Wrigley Field no longer cuts it for us. Following an unavailing pack of lovable losers no longer satisfies us. Our culture is changing.
We're still not at the point where the majority of fans care for the team as much as they do the ballpark, but maybe we're getting there. However, I do think that Cub fans should be not just disappointed by a season in which the team doesn't reach the playoffs but angry - at least a little. Based on the way fans have reacted to disappointment in the past few years, I'd say that's finally happening. And as Rob might point out - once that does happen, then the team will likely feel more obligated to put out a winner every single year - thereby elevating the Cubs into that elite group I mentioned earlier.