Friday, October 10, 2008

mourning

So, it's been almost a week since the Cubs season imploded in on the team, the city and the fans. I've taken some time to ponder what this has meant for me and what this could potentially mean to all the Cubs fans out there. Up until this time I haven't even had the strength to do this post. I'm sitting in the Las Vegas airport at 10:30pm after a week long work conference, waiting to catch the red eye to the East Coast for a good friend's wedding. Nothing is more depressing than the Vegas airport late at night with people waiting to take a red eye. I thought it an appropriate time to write this post.

I've been struggling with many emotions since the 5th inning of game 1 (which I did end up getting a pair of tickets to) when the wheels came off the 2008 season: shock, embarrassment, anger, hope, angst, shame and most of all despair. I think it's fair to say any die hard Cubs fan has experienced roughly the same emotions.

I'm sad to report that at this point I don't have any encouraging words for fans out there to take away. I'm sorry. I've always felt that this blog should be only positive, but this time it hurts too much. It actually hurts more than 2003. Maybe that memory has faded some and 2008 is still fresh so it seems to hurt more, but I don't think so. While 2003's crash and burn was only something that could happen to the Cubs, this year was the 1st time in my life where I truly felt it was THE year. This team was too good for it not to be....and by God, it was the 100 year anniversary sine their last World Championship. It was destiny.

Silly me for having that thought.

I think it also hurts so much more because of the feeling of despair and resignation that if this Cubs team couldn't win a single playoff game, then what hope is there that this will ever happen in my life time?

It also hurts because it became very clear that this was a total mental collapse. I won't go into any details of the series for the same reasons you wouldn't go into the details of a family member's long, painful death, but the Cubs couldn't have played much worse than they did. Game 2 was the worst game they played all season and it was down right embarrassing. I actually had pity for the announcers for Christ sake.

This has naturally led me to evaluate what I do now. These are my options as a Cubs fan:

  • Forge on as a die hard fan and say "next year is the year!"
  • Stop following the Cubs for good because I just can't take it any more
  • Switch over to the dark side and start rooting for the Sox (my cousin pulled this trick out of his hat after '84 with his Father's permission and was rewarded for his Benedict Arnold-like move with a championship in 2005)
  • Stop being an "all in" fan with the Cubs until they win one playoff game no matter how long it takes
  • Take a step back, put this decision on hold until Spring training when the pain has subsided for a bit, root for the Bears and decide what to do in February
For now, I'm going to put this decision on hold, but I have to say that I'm heavily leaning towards pulling out until the Cubs win one playoff game. I don't mean I won't follow them at all, but I won't make an effort to go to games, I won't make an effort to watch them on tv or listen to the radio broadcasts (although Pat & Ron are often entertaining even without the game), I will stop reading the sports section every day about the Cubs, I will stop reading ESPN daily about the Cubs, etc.

One of my best friends Ed, decided to do this after game 1 and didn't even watch games 2 & 3. If he can pull that off, anyone can. When I sent him a text after inning 2 of game 2, he had no idea what had happened. At that point I envied him. Trust me when I say he's a die hard fan. At the time I thought it was a drastic, knee jerk decision. In retrospect, it was genius and I wish I had followed suit....it's a very tempting proposition. As my other good friend Mike said it best when he told me "I don't invest six months of my life following this team every day for the season to end like this."

Yes I know it's drastic, but desperate times call for drastic measures. When a friend of mine who lives in LA and who is a life long, die hard Dodgers fan (I didn't know they existed until I met him either) emailed me to seriously inquire into the state of my mental health after he didn't hear from me for a few days after the series ended (I owed him one deep dish Chicago pizza from our bet as well), I knew it was time to reconsider how seriously I was taking the Cubs.

I'm curious to know how this postseason's abject failure is affecting the other die hards out there. Please post a comment and let everybody know your thoughts on what, if anything, you're going to different going forward. I'm thinking I'm not the only one who's contemplating this decision.

So, I do apologize for not having anything more positive to say at this point, but that's how I'm feeling. I'll see if the long, cold, gray Chicago winter changes my tune when it's time for pitchers and catchers to report. That's it for now. I wish all the fans out there the best in getting through this off season.

--89 Cubs

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The key to breaking The Curse, in my opinion, is an organizational commitment to winning. The Red Sox finally broke through by spending the money and drafting wisely and making the playoffs almost every year for the last 15 years. Do that, and eventually the breaks WILL fall your way. However, if the organization is only committed to fielding a decent team every 10 or 15 years (see 1945-1984), then the odds of winning a WS are remarkably slim.

Maybe this is the 2004(?) Cardinals that won 105 games and the 2006 Cardinals, with 83 wins, got the title. That's about the only solace I have right now.

Also, it will be tempting, but we have to avoid the knee-jerk reaction to blow up the nucleus of this team. Barring the unforeseeable, the 2009 Cubs should be back in the playoffs. We need to tweak the roster, not overhaul it.

LV Mandy said...

I, too, am utterly disgusted with the Cubs performance. I have proudly supported the Cubbies through the good and bad for 21 years and have never once felt the way I felt while watching their pitiful post-season action this year. I quit watching game 2 after the 5th inning and half heartedly watched game 3. I'm done with baseball for the year.

I'm not sure how I will feel next year, but at this point I'm pretty firm in saying I will not make the effort to see the Cubs play in LA, San Diego or Arizona as I have in years past. Maybe one trip to Wrigley or Miller Park to catch a game with family members in the midwest, but more for the experience and spending time with family factor, not so much to support the team. The Jays just moved their AAA affiliate to Vegas, maybe I'll start following them. At least you EXPECT them to suck. I'm sick of "waiting 'til next year", only to have the team completely fall apart AGAIN.

Dj Augie X said...

u should be ashamed of yourself for even contemplating switching to a sox fan.
what's wrong with you???

PlayoffBound said...

Thanks for the post. I always enjoy reading others thoughts on this past Cubs season and what feelings they have as a result. I do generally agree with most of what was said, but disagree in other regards which I discuss below.

First off, I agree that this past season was a complete disappointment. The emotion or lack thereof shown on my face during those 3 games was uncomparable. I did not attend any of the games in person but it was clear the fans in the stadium were simply waiting for something bad to happen. During the regular season games this year (many of which I watched) the general fan base always felt this team had a chance to come back. In the playoffs, that feeling was gone. The players, coaches, and fans all felt hopeless, as though they were watching fate unravel before our eyes. It was difficult to watch from my couch. I was tempted to change the channel after each pitch, not wanting to cringe as another walk gets issued. But I truly believe that watching every inning will one day make winning a world series even that much better.

Unline many fans, I don't believe that the 2008 cub team will go down as one of the worst collapses ever. Granted, we were a great team with high expectations, but being 5 outs away from the world series in 2003 was much harder to swallow. Obviously, time will tell.

One thing I don't understand is the attitude stating "i am no longer going to cheer for the cubs". I understand being frustrated, hurt, disappointed and generally angry at the team for failing to meet expectations. But being a cubs fan is all about the eternal optimistic attitude. There's a reason people show signs saying "wait til next year" and "next year is here" all over Wrigley during regular season play. Being a cub fan is something special and not something to take for granted. It's a gift, and someday when the cubs win the world series, I'm going to be cheering loudest for them. Not because I decided to finally watch the games once they got good, but because I'm a fan of the team. Through thick and thin I will be waving my 'W' flag, my cubbie blue hat, and singing 'Go Cubs Go' all season long. If baseball was ONLY about winning a world series and being a fan of great world series teams, everyone should become Yankees fans so they can say "their" team has won the most in the past 100 years.

In closing, I will leave you with this...just remember those early June nights at Wrigley. Sitting with your friends, drinking a beer, listening to the chatter of the crowd, and rising to your feet as the bases become loaded. Wrigley is a magical place and a magical team plays there. The cubs are the best team in baseball and I challenge anyone who disagrees.

Cubz Fan said...

As with the others, I too am very disappointed in how the Cubs failed to play up to their ability. For the overly high amounts they are paid to hit a baseball and play the sport like professionals, they sure looked worse than my local little league team. In fact, my team had more heart in the face of a winless season than the pro team called the Cubs.

It just seemed like the last weeks of the season as well as the last 3 games they just gave up and let the other team win. While I understand that "resting" your everyday players is a necessity, resting them so much that they lose their spark, cohesiveness, and mental mindset for winning is unforgiveable. If I were a team owner or manager, as soon as I saw my highly paid players begin to relax and only rely on their past accomplishments (and there were some great games this past year) I would be benching them until they can get their act together.

I don't care that Soriano wants to only hit first. If he can't do it, find someone who can. Let him whine. He's being paid an obscene amount in my eyes. Fukudome is another story. Why wasn't he sent to the minors as soon as he started having consistent trouble hitting?? Any other player would have been sent down. We have to stop treating these "superstars" with kid gloves and treat these players as employees who are paid to produce. If I get in a slump at work, I'm quickly called to task and told to shape up or get out.

I changed my car plates to CUBZ FN and will keep them. As soon as they got booted from the playoffs, my manager asked me if I had changed my mind. My answer is no. While I am done with baseball, I am still looking forward to Spring training.

Lou and the front office for the Cubs needs to sit down and take a serious look at their team. If a player is performing, reward them by giving them more playing time and if they are hitting well, maybe a lead off position. Without base runners, how can we score??

All I have to say on our past pitching, is we do have some very good pitchers, but we DESPERATELY need middle relievers. What good is a lead when you bring in the likes of Cotts or Weurtz and have them blow it? Marmol and Wood need to switch places. Wood in the 9th and Marmol closing. And for God's sake, a single inning pitcher (Wood) should NEVER pitch for more than 1 inning. We got into a lot of unnecessary trouble by letting him pitch more than 1 inning.

OK, I apologize for the length of this, but these are just some things I had to get off my chest. I am done with baseball and rooting for my football teams, the Bears and the Illini and finish my college degree. Come next year, I'll be fresh again, more optimistic, and ready to root on my Cubbies to another championship and maybe, just maybe, a play-off win.

1984 said...

Hello all. Thanks for sharing. Reading your comments has been rewarding. I still can't get over this year's collapse.

As my name implies, I got hooked in 1984. I was in grad school and I would listen to Harry Caray on the radio while studying. Holy Cow! Hooked is the right word. The Cubs are an addiction. No matter how bad they are for me, I still stick with them. Hoping that, one day, it will all become worth it.

I am from the Philippines and there are some parallels. The Cubs have not won for 100 years. The Philippines has never ever won an Olympic gold medal. Really embarrassing for a country that actually likes sports. We have come so tantalizingly close. Yet, that one breakthrough gold has eluded us.

This has a serious effect on our athletes. Once they come close, the mind starts taking over. The desire becomes excessive. This is not helped by the politicians and the corporations who offer generous bonuses for the first gold. And so they choke. In the last one, only a few did better than their personal bests.

I think it is the same way for the Cubs. The burden of 100 years is just too much. When we figure out how to relieve ourselves of this burden, then we will win. Much like the Red Sox, we need some kind of talismanic season, bloody sock and all, that will release us.

When will it come? I hope its in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I've been a Cubs fan since 1980 and, like every other fan, have been through many rough and disheartening moments. But even though we haven't won it all, there have been a lot of great moments too. I'm sure everyone can think of at least a dozen triumphant games that you either went to or watched on TV with friends. I guess you have to try to remember those moments in these desperate times. Ok, before I go all sappy on everyone I have one more thing to share. My dad was a huge fan of the Phillies. As a kid I watched him go through the wringer watching games, those are some great memories. He game me the book, "A Great and Glorious Game" by Bart Giamatti and told me to turn to page one in times like this. So the other day, I did just that. Here it is:

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the Spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it the most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone."

I don't know about everyone else, but next Spring, I'll be back for another go at it.

rajat.kapur said...

From a die-hard red sox fan who feels bad for all of you... and who suffered until the joy of 2004, I strongly recommend: Stop being an "all in" fan with the Cubs until they win one playoff game no matter how long it takes. Don't watch every game... just check the box score. Don't go to games unless you get a free ticket. Don't read about it every day, don't follow the latest minor leaguer they might send up, etc, etc, etc. What I'm saying is: Don't give them your heart any more until they give you their's back.

It really works, at least this worked for me. Like Ed's decision, the wait saves you lots of time, LOTS of money, and lots of heartache.

Raj

AC 000000 said...

I too am in mourning and I too told myself "I'm tired of getting my hopes crushed everytime we win the division". But I will never in a million years stop being a Cub Fan, nor will I stop being an "all in" Cub Fan. I will watch and hope and pray (like I do every year) that my (our) beloved Cubbies finally win it all.

IT'S GONNA HAPPEN!

Please bear with me on this story:

I was 6 yrs old. My grandfather made sure I was a Cub fan. - "This is a Cubs family!" he would say, "And no other team will be watched."

Now I guess I am not a 5th generation Cub Fan. Because my father (being from Puerto Rico) was never really a HUGE baseball fan. But he certainly enjoyed watching it. I think he was a "Chicago Fan", (meaning that he would root for both teams when they were doing well). But my Grandfather on my mom's side was certainly dead set on which team he would be absolutely sure I would watch and root for. My mom did too.

And so it was.

So anyway, I'm 6 yrs old and I wasn't doing very well in school. My Grandfather finally comes up to me and says "Look, do your best and if your grades improve, I will take you to a Cub game" Which, back in 1978 meant a day off from school, because back then ALL Cub games were day games!

Long story short. I improved my grades and I finally got to see my first Cub game.
The date: Wednesday, May 24th 1978Versus the Phillies.
Sec 110, Row 3, Seat 7. Obviosuly, that is a third base line seat. That game certainly wasn't sold out so we ended up right next to the Cub dugout thanks to my grandpa's "smooth work" with the ushers. *wink-wink*

I remember getting off the El at Addison and seeing some of Wrigley field. It was quite a site! A monstrous ballpark through the eyes of a 7 yr old. I remember the vendors yelling "Peanuts!" or "Programs! Get your programs here!" as we walked towards the gate. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! I was shaking with anticipation and my grandpa saw it. "Wanna race?" he says to me and I said "Yes!"

BOOM!

We dart off to the gate. (of course, I won) So I finally set foot inside the outer confines of Wrigley field for the first time and I remember the scent of the food coming from the concession stands, the souvenir vendors screaming to get you to stop by and look. (they don't have to do that anymore). The hustle & the bustle of it all was spectacular to me. I've never seen so many people.

As we walk towards out section, I catch a glimpse of the field through one of the concourses. I was awestrcuk, so much that I stopped and made my way towards the concourse. My grandfather stops me and says, "Danny, we're almost there. So hurry up!" - So we finally reach our section, we're walking up the concourse and there she was...Wrigley Field! The green grass, about 70% of the ivy (it was only May), the seats, the organ music, the scoreboard, the people on the rooftops. Just like TV. It was a beautiful thing.

I saw Dave Kingman (my hero of that Cub era), Ivan DeJesus, Billy Buckner, Bobby Murcer, Bruce Sutter, they were all there! Comiserating, playing catch, etc. I couldn't believe I was actually watching them in person! How great it was!

We won that day in extra innings. My grandpa was teaching me how to keep score and he made a comment how lucky I was to be here because we tied it in the bottom of the 9th.

The reason I know all of this is because my grandfather put all of this in his journal and he pasted the ticket stubs on the page. He made several mentions that I was so excited to be there, that he was sure I'll be an A+ student in no time. - LOL
And although I was a strong B student at best, it was still a drastic improvement. So my grandfather and I shared 7 Cub Games that summer. One of the best summer's of my life. As my grandfather passed that very next year.

So to put it bluntly, it is not just the Cubs that will keep me a Cub fan, it's Wrigley Field too! All the ghosts of baseball's past walked on those hallowed grounds. (The Bambino, Dimaggio, Ty Cobb, Hammerin' Hank, Clemente, etc, etc) some of the best players in the game played for the Cubbies (Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg) and if I may quote Mr. Gary Smith from a previous SI issue;

"They could lose for 100 more years, and they still had what neither I nor any other fans in sports did: On the schedule every year from now till kingdom come or Wrigley go. Eighty-one chances to be children again."

AMEN!

Lindberg said...

The way the Phillies beat the Dodgers so badly in the NLCS reinforces just how BADLY the Cubs played in the NLDS. I mean it's really upsetting to see the team that beat your team just roll right over. Seeing Nomar make the last out on a lazy pop foul was cold comfort at best.

1984 said...

I am so envious right now as I just "watched" the Red Sox come back.

That is what's been missing all these years from the Cubs. That mental and emotional toughness to overcome adversity. Down 3-0 to the Yankees? No problem. Down 3-1 to the Rays and 7-0 in the game? No problem. I'm willing to bet that they will win it all now.

In contrast, everyone (including the most diehard Cubss fans) seemed to have assumed that we had lost it all without even having started Game 3. Heck, some people were already tearing out their hair after Game 1.

We need this. The belief that we will eventually win!

NEXT YEAR! WE WILL WIN IT ALL!!! BELIEVE IT!

Magee's Dad said...

What he said in this post was dead on.
I feel the same way.

The problem is once Spring Training gets here I am so pumped for baseball, I can't help myself and I start getting behind the Cubs again.

What my Dad and I have done is just realized that sometimes you need to have faith in something larger than yourself.

That is what being a Cubs fan is all about, if we all give up, which I have thought of doing many times over the past 2 weeks, then you should just throw away your jersey and hat.

I know it is hard, but take the winter off, watch the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, or my case the Minnesota Wild, I live in Minneapolis, but once spring gets here you get behind the team.

Because that is what we do.

If you give up now, you have absolutely no right to cheer and join the party when they do win it all.

So take the winter off and come back ready and refresed in the Spring.

This has happened 100 times before one more season isn't going to kill anybody

Miss Wiese said...

Hang in there..but have some perspective, there are starving children all over the world...and it is just a sports team. =)

gotthatyayo said...

just for the record Ac 000000000 comment made a tear come to my eye (and im as hardcore as they get)

im still so freaking bumed ..... i gave my heart 2 this team for all of 30 yrs...i didnt c game 3 cause i didnt want to cry.... im glad my pops raised me as a cubs fan but im doubting my son will root for them mind u that i will never stop being a cubs fan but its just sucking to be one know, i think i might let him root 4 any team he wants to root for and not make him go threw what i have gone threw all my life as a cubs fan, im just not going to invest as much in this team as i was doing these past 30 yrs... im going to watch the opening day game but after that i wont follow every single game while i work and i wont cancel dinner plans just to c the cubs play, i know they will have a great season in 09 but i wont truly hardcore root for them till they win a play off game

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The Chicago Cubs Magic Number is derived by the following equation: Total Number of Games + 1 - Wins by the Cubs - Losses by Best Opponent.

The Magic Number is affected by one of two events, a Cubs win or the best opponent losing. The number is 163 at the beginning of the season. When the number hits 0, the Cubs have clinched the NL Central and are in the PLAYOFFS!

This site represents the Magic Number for clinching the National League Central Division . If the Wild Card becomes relevant for getting into the post season, this site may contain both. In that case, the Wild Card number will clearly be denote.

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This is the year

This is the year
I will watch from just over the rail.

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