Recently, I’ve been taking some, um, guff from NotTheHeat for being a Fair Weather Fan (FWF) and being more interested in the New York Yankees (the fav team of my youth) and, this weekend, at least, the showdown between the first place White Sox and second place Tigers. He’s gone so far to suggest that I don’t deserve the honor of wearing my Cubs hat anymore. Obviously, I need to reply with more than just 140 characters.
I will not fall back on the old saw that I root for a team that hasn’t “won it all” in over 100 years. (As they say in Chicago, anyone can have a bad century.) And I wouldn’t accept that I was spoiled by rooting for a team that has won the World Series more than twice as many times as any other team. (I wouldn’t even mention that Padre Jim abandoned the team of his youth – that has never won it all – just in time to jump on the Giants bandwagon.
I will say that what I’ve decided over the past few years is that more baseball organizations should be like the Yankees. No, more teams should not buy (or attempt to buy) pennants. But every team should – every fan should expect – the organization to run out a team that has a legitimate chance of winning it all … or it should demonstrate that it has a plan for getting there.
I wouldn’t ask the Cubs to defend the last 100 years, but since 2010, the organization has been running out a sure loser with little evidence of a master plan for being a contending team. The hiring of Theo Epstein and investing in a smart front office shows great progress for the Cubs organization and I look forward to seeing the results. But even with those hirings, no one expected the Cubs to contend this year and the team is not surprising on that front. Moreover, this year’s team does not even constitute a “rebuilding year” in my mind. Why? Because it is not like the Cubs are spending the year watching how their best prospects can perform in the majors. Instead, the roster is filled with many veterans, many “stop gap measures”, and one real prospect (Anthony Rizzo) who wasn’t called up ‘til late June. In fact, earlier this year, the Cubs let the baseball world know that ALL BUT ONE PLAYER ON THE ROSTER WOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR TRADE.
With all due respect to Jerry Seinfeld, I’m not rooting for the clothes I want to root for players that are part of my team’s plan for winning a championship.
Until the time the Cubs are running out the players that they expect to win with, there’s lots of other things vying for my attention – my ten year-old’s baseball team, European soccer, and, yes, teams that actually play baseball well enough to reach the post season. When the Cubs field a team with expectations of winning – even in the future – I’ll re-engage. Until then, why should I, why should any fan, just root for the clothes?