By: Alex Patt
Let’s be real, this is a tough time to be a Cubs fan. The team has been dismantled and what is left is mostly unrecognizable to the average baseball fan. Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, Jason Heyward and the empty shell of Jake Arrieta are all that remain from the team that ended a 108-year drought just five years ago. The team will miss the playoffs by a wide margin and is on a rebuilding path.
Look, from a baseball operations perspective I will argue that rebuilding was the right call. As much as we loved what the core did on the North Side, the team was not succeeding like they were expected to and had not won a playoff game since 2017…in what was supposed to be the PRIME window of contention. The game passed them by fast and it was time for the Cubs to make changes. Sure, we can also point to the front office, development, and ownership’s recent refusal to spend as reasons for the downfall, they are all indeed big parts of it, but it was time to make massive roster changes regardless of how much one factor contributed vs. another.
This does not make it any less emotional or frustrating. Saying goodbye to Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez brought a tear to my eye if I am being completely honest. Between seeing Rizzo take in Wrigley one last time after being traded to the Yankees or Bryant getting emotional in the dugout after finding out he was dealt to San Francisco, it was tough to witness. Even if this was expected and necessary for the future, still not an easy pill to swallow.
Who knows if any of these guys get resigned. Right now it honestly looks like the bridges between them and the Cubs have been damaged, unfortunately. We will see.
It stinks that it had to come to this and I wish it could have ended better, but this is where we are and we have to move forward.
Jed Hoyer in return for selling off major pieces has built up the farm system with notable prospects. These pieces are being looked at as what will hopefully be key elements in the next era of Cubs baseball. The farm has a mix of guys that have been growing for a few years and are getting close, i.e. Brennen Davis, some who might be a year or two away, i.e. Kevin Alcantara, and those who are a ways away like international star Cristian Hernandez.
This rebuild will probably not take forever like others in baseball have, but it might not be quite as quick as some people hope. I personally think it could be 2-3 years before the Cubs have a shot at contending again. Even if they actually spend this winter, it is hard to see them fixing all the holes in one offseason. They could be competitive again fairly soon, but as a legit contender? It will not happen overnight. The next season or two could still be pretty rough overall. Hopefully by 2023 the Cubs at least see the next good team on the North Side start to take shape. Who knows, it could be longer or it could be sooner. Time will tell.
Until then, it is going to be rough and it is time to be strong.
We Cubs fans had suffered for 108 years before finally seeing that elusive title. We took the constant ridicule time after time as we remained eternally hopeful. We survived a Theo Epstein rebuild that required a lot of patience, even though we felt we had already waited long enough to see a winner. We stayed loyal then and we can stay loyal now.
As the team stands right now, they have fallen so far and are pretty much irrelevant in the sports world. Yes, the Cubs will always have Wrigley Field and will draw, but the rest of 2021 there will be plenty of empty seats and TV ratings will dip. Even in the city of Chicago alone, every other team looks to be making strides towards contenting now or in the upcoming seasons. The White Sox are now the baseball team in Chicago everyone is talking about, and they look like they will be contending for pennants and World Series for the next decade with the unreal talent they have. Hey, good for them. Even the BEARS have more promise short-term with the drafting of Justin Fields. Bulls and Blackhawks have made “winning moves” the past few weeks, while the Cubs have torn it down.
If one were to make “Chicago Power Rankings” right now, let’s be real…the Cubs are all the way at the very bottom. The Cubs are the butts of the jokes again, and we fans are already getting earfuls…just like old times! But hey, at least we can say we have actually seen our time win a World Series this time! Better than 1908. At the end of the day, however, we Cubs fans just have to focus on our team and worry less about outside noise. We will drive ourselves crazy worrying about what others say or think about us.
I cannot say this rebuild will work for certain, nor can I say that we will see another championship again any time soon…nobody can. What I can say is that if we stay strong and weather the storm, there are better days ahead. We might be down now, but we will not be down forever. If we can rebuild and finally win it all once, then who is to say we cannot win it again? Anything is possible, even if nothing is guaranteed.
To quote Harvey Dent from, The Dark Knight:
“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”
Right now we are in the darkest of the night. Each passing day as prospects develop and the plan becomes more clear, we get closer to the dawn. Remember that every day that passes, we are closer to being better than we were the day before. It is cliché and obvious, but it makes me feel better about this situation.
Until we can proudly “Fly the W” again, we will watch the seeds grow. We suffered together, we celebrated together, and we will get through this together. When the Cubs won it all in 2016, and thousands of people made their way to Wrigley Field to draw on the walls with chalk, it felt like we were all one family. We keep that same mentality, and we can get through anything. I know everyone has different emotional investment when it comes to baseball, and that is okay! I just urge Cubs fans to try to cope with this in the best way possible, however that might be for you.
Stay strong, Cubs fans. We are in this together!