The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Wait ‘Til This Year

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Such words, I’m sure, have hardly ever been spoken by Cubs fans.  At least not after June most years, last year being the exception.  But, I’ll say them:  Wait ’til this year.  I think the Cubs can do it again.  I’m not willing to bet on it just yet, but I’m feeling optimistic.  But it’s a long season, and a lot of things can happen.

First, the Cubs didn’t win the World Series by accident, mostly.  It was carefully plotted by the owners and the general manager over the course of several years, and it wasn’t merely a matter of finding the right coach and the right players.  They had to fight the fan base and slay the horrible nostalgia dragon, which I’ve written about before herein.  They accomplished that, though, and having the right players and the mostly right manager helped put the whole puzzle together.  Going to a Cubs game is a different experience these days, evidenced by a change in fan behaviors and the physical geography of Wrigleyville.  It was a matter of taking the team and the fan base to rehab, and after their 28 days not only going back home but creating all kinds of different routines and habits that wouldn’t lead back to the same-old same-old.

So I said the “mostly” right manager.  Check your baseball sources, and you’ll see that Joe Maddon did plenty in the post-season last year that could have caused the Cubs to lose.  He ain’t no calculating Tony LaRussa or cunning and conniving Earl Weaver, but he is a respectable baseball mind even if his mind sometimes runs astray.  He has a luxury in being able to experiment with things because he has the talent stacked behind him that can make up for his mistakes.  His latest experiment is abandoning speed at the top of the order in favor of power.  I’m not in favor of it because I’m more of a traditionalist in terms of how you line up your batters.  Even right now, as I’m watching Game 1, the Cardinals are leading because of their speed.  I won’t be surprised if that holds and the Cards win, nor will I be surprised if speedy teams or teams with excellent managers beat up on the Cubs this year.  I’m looking at you, Dodgers and Giants and Mets and Cardinals.

But team speed won’t be the sole deciding factor.  Earl Weaver probably said it best years ago when he addressed team speed:

“Team speed for chrissakes, you get fuckin’ goddam little fleas on the fuckin’ bases, getting picked off, tryin’ to steal, gettin’ thrown out, takin’ runs away from you, get them big cocksuckers that can hit the fuckin’ ball out the ballpark and ya can’t make any goddam mistakes.”

So teams don’t necessarily need speed, though it is a luxury that can get you out of a lot of trouble throughout a season, especially in the playoffs.  Still, no matter how fast your team is, or how many home runs they hit, they won’t go any further than their pitching can take them.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the White Sox or the Brewers or the Cubs—pitching still dominates.  Thankfully the Cubs have plenty of it, even if they are a bit testy in the back end of the bullpen as the season opens.  And regardless of how good the pitching is that they will face, the opposition will still have to face Schwarber, Bryant, and Rizzo more than they face anybody else in the Cubs lineup.  That trio at the top of the order will win the Cubs a lot of games.  Hopefully Joe Maddon won’t screw things up from there, though I won’t be surprised if at some point Javier Baez is batting lead-off and the trifecta of S-B-R drops into the traditional 2-3-4 spots.

I don’t quite know why I’m worrying about things like this right now.  I guess I’m just glad baseball is back and I don’t have to wade through anymore ridiculous pre-season crap.  It’s all good now, but I won’t really pick up the baseball spirit until mid-summer, after my interests in soccer have played out and I can sit and watch (and listen!) to games on a consistent basis.  There will be plenty of games left to watch, and hopefully I can continue into late October.

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Written by seeker70

April 2, 2017 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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