Total Failure!Disclaimer: This blog is not pre-planned and almost entirely stream of consciousness.
The 2008 Chicago Cubs are now officially a complete failure. By far, this team was the biggest disappointment of my lifetime. This team finished the regular season with 97 wins, not only the best record in the National League, but the franchise's best record since the 1945 pennant winner.
Expectations were to win the 2008 World Series. No, they were not just to return to the postseason. No, they weren't simply to win the NLDS. No, they were not to simply win the National League pennant and be happy with an appearance in the Series. The goal was to win the World Series. Ryan Dempster said it back during spring training. He said we had a good enough team to win the World Series. He was right. We were, and we only became better as the season rolled along.
All throughout the 2008 season, the Cubs never strung together a significant losing streak. The most games this lost was three in a row until early September. They managed an 8-game losing streak. Still, we survived. We had a sizable lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, we were never concerned they would catch us. They never did. In fact, they almost lost the wild card down the stretch. The Chicago Cubs were more than the class of the National League Central Division, they were best in the National League by far.
Tonight the Cubs fell victim to their second consecutive NLDS sweep. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Cubs, 3-1. Despite being the closest game of the far too brief 3-game series, the Cubs once again failed to produce any offense. Derrek Lee was the bright spot at the plate this evening. Also, the pitching staff performed well. Rich Harden was more than adequate as a starting pitcher this evening, and the bullpen did not implode.
During the 2007 season, the Cubs were dead in the water very early. They managed a remarkable resurrection late in the season to win the division. Management did everything possible to make sure this team would win the World Series. They signed Kosuke Fukudome from Japan. They traded for Oakland Athletics pitcher Rich Harden. They converted Ryan Dempster from a closer to starting pitcher. They pulled Jim Edmonds off the scrap pile and squeezed every once of production possible out of him. They snagged Reed Johnson from the Toronto Bluejays scrap heap too.
After all of these moves. Failure! Total failure.
I am disappointed in Lou Piniella. His tone changed late this season. From all his talk of "Cubs swagger," his words softened to, "We're just going to play as long as we can." Expectations lowered from the top. That's sad, and I'm angry.
I expect Cubs fans to demand victory. Not just "believe," or hold up those silly "It's Gonna Happen" signs, and hope for next year. As much as I despise the New York Yankees, their management and fans expect to win. When they don't, they retool and win again. That's why the Yankees have won 26 World Series championship. They believe in stupid curses, or blame fans for interference, or claim that fans hurt their feelings when they boo poor performance.
We were Chicago fans. We deserve far better than we have received. We live and support a team in a world-class city. We deserve better.
But we continue to lose.
The Florida Marlins joined the National League in 1993. Since then they have two, not one, two World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series. They marched into New York and pounded the Yankees. Everyone expected that city to be given another title that year. Even the Colorado Rockies won the National League pennant in 2007. They did not win the World Series, but made it as close as possible.
In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. They brought a World Series championship to city that hasn't seen a World Series since 1959, and a hadn't won one since 1917. Expectations have been elevated. Cubs fans should be expecting more. I certainly am.
I demand Cubs fans to boo performance. If the players cannot stand the booing, or it hurts their feelings, get them out of Wrigley Field. I don't want them playing for my team or in this city ever again. Send them to the Washington Nationals, I team nobody cares for. Send them to the Kansas City Royals. Nobody attends those games, so nobody will boo them.
If anyone claims this was a successful season, they are not Chicago Cubs fans. No matter which team, the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers or Philadelphia Phillies, they are lesser teams than the 2008 Chicago Cubs. One of them will represent the National League in the World Series. An inferior team will take a shot at the World Series title, and may very well win the title that was rightfully ours. On Opening Day 2009, there should be a World Series banner displayed at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, it will be flying somewhere else.
The Cubs may not have a team as well-rounded as this one for quite a while. Sure, some young players will be coming back, but a number of back-loaded contracts will start to come due. Alfonso Soriano failed in October for two consecutive seasons. He still has six seasons on his contract. He hasn't produced when the team needed him most and he will start to receive more each season for the remainder of his contract. Ryan Dempster's season may be a fluke. He might resort to his form of 2007. Rich Harden might suffer the arm injuries he experienced in Oakland. Felix Pie may end up being Corey Patterson, and that's an insult.
Failure! Total failure Cubs fans. Expect more in 2009. Raise your standards. We deserve better. Chicago deserves better.