Sunday, October 5th, 2008

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.

I feel terrible for Cubs fans right now. You guys are long overdue.
Brian   Sunday, October 5, 2008
Very nice blog. Well said. What a disappointment it was this year. Last year was bad, but I never felt like we deserved it. This year we did. Last October's implosion made this year's all the more heartbreaking.

The worst part is that if they make it to October next year, I don't think there's a Cubs fan out there with enough optimism to expect anything different. Nine straight post-season losses. Not only losses, but losses in which our players couldn't have looked worse. What a shame.
Dave Heinzel   Sunday, October 5, 2008
Thanks for the comments. This blog was my most shoot-from-the-hip yet. I am sure there was something I didn't address. What kills me most about this season is that it was our best opportunity (at least during my lifetime) to actually win the World Series. We had the best team, without a doubt, in the National League. The World Series would have been a challenge, but the Angels showed their flaws.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, October 5, 2008
Mike Nadel said today if they make it to the playoffs next year they ought to just forfeit the games and save everybody the grief.
!   Sunday, October 5, 2008
You know what I wish would happen, but it won't. When the 2009 season rolls around, I wish Cub fans would just stay home. This team needs a huge wake up call and that would be it. They would listen to the loss of thousands of dollars in ticket revenue. If Cub fans can't do it for the season, then at least pick out one day or two days when nobody shows up for the game. Hurt them in their pocketbook. Demand more than this.
!   Sunday, October 5, 2008
Sorry, in these days of disappoint you look for relief from your sports teams, the Cubs let everyone who backed them down.
dannie   Sunday, October 5, 2008
Nice blog Bill. If that's your stream of consciousness, you are an English teacher's best friend.

So, it sucks that they lost. I'm angry and heartbroken. I spent the last 2 innings driving around by myself, listening to Pat and Ron, and crying. Then I came home and cleaned the back window of my car. No more Wootmobile.

Then I woke up this morning and thought, I can't wait until next season. I can't wait for Spring Training. I can't wait for Opening Day. I can't wait for the Cubs to have another shot at the postseason.

In light of what happened I know it sounds naive. But what else can I do except wallow in misery for the duration of winter? I can't switch teams and I can't walk away from baseball.

How do we raise our standards and demand more? As you said, the Cubs did everything they could to put together a winning team this year and they still fell short. In the past, management hasn't put the big bucks into getting the best talent because they know the seats will be filled regardless. But that attitude has changed and management was trying to put together a team that would go all the way.( Although I do agree with you that Piniella's comments near the end were pretty demoralizing. NOW is when I wanted some bravado and arrogance.)

The Cubs team this year had 100 years of failure weighing on them, which was not of their own making. Yeah they had the best record in the NL but that doesn't translate into postseason victory. And thank God for that, or else baseball would be a pretty boring game. I wouldn't worry about this being the best opportunity during your lifetime to win the big one. Because it doesn't always matter! The postseason, in my opinion, is somewhat of a crapshoot. Sometimes the dude who has never gambled before wins big and high roller goes home broke. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I think Cubs fans are being more vocal about winning and I think management has responded. Beyond that, there's not much that can be done. We aren't entitled to anything. That's the beauty of the game. 100 years and counting...
SallyPants   Sunday, October 5, 2008
I am not sure if I even want to be a Cubs fan anymore. After this experience, I feel very cheated for some reason. I have never been a die hard fan like some people I know and I think it is sad that a team with that much talent can't hold it together to have at least won 2 of the games. It was the Dodgers of all teams. Where can we all officially write to to complain. I agree with ! and hope the fans protest and not buy tickets for next season's games.
SA Tenor   Sunday, October 5, 2008
I have been a die-hard Cubs fan since I first learned to play ball. I would never give up on my team, or the game as a whole. I think fans need to be more vocal when players play dead in the postseason and underachieve. They need to stop supporting players because they "try hard," or "they are scrappy." I would try hard, be scrappy, and every other cliche in the book, but that just isn't good enough. Fans need to be willing to move players to keep the team young, fresh and in contention. Too often, Cubs fans hold players too close to their hearts. They'll bolt town in pursuit of large paydays. This is a business. Some trades work, some don't. They need to evaluate which players have value and which don't. In the next few years, the Cubs could be trapped in salary contract hell.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, October 5, 2008
This team failed in every aspect of the game in this series. If you give a good team chance after chance you will ultimately lose. The Dodgers are a good team and one of the hottest coming into the post season. They deserve credit as much as the Cube deserve blame. After 2003 I made a vow to NEVER allow myself to invest emotion into this franchise. I was born and raised a Cub fan but the disappointment year after year was just too much. I watch baseball because I love it, but nothing more. It will be yet another long winter for Cub fans.
ozthegreat   Sunday, October 5, 2008
I'm so sorry, Sally Pants and Dave. I can take the disappointment for myself, but it breaks my heart into a million pieces to have my kids' hearts broken.
!   Sunday, October 5, 2008
Go Rays! I am truly disgusted By the way we were swept again with NO effort. 6 errors, out scored like twenty to six. YOu have to give credit to LA. They came to play and Torre managed well( though running up the score a bit.)
Its time to clean house with anyone who doesn't want to win. Jim Hendry needs to go. Tear down Wrigley and move the damn team. Let those stinking, crooked "Black Sox" have it. Hell, a move worked for the suffering Cleveland Browns in the NFL.
Not that it matters to me now but lets have a Rays Vs Dodgers World Series. A team that no one saw coming and one no one thought could pull it together and knock off this years NL powerhouse.
Oh I'll be back next year but I am not wasting another day watching My team. The sports page will be it for me. At least the Bears won today But I just don't have the faith and energy to care right now.
Brian Osborne   Sunday, October 5, 2008
I think the best thing for the Cubs to do is go into a post season as an underdog. As a Yankees fanrelaxed that...I've seen how the greatest of expectations crumple the games best players. Especially after losing game one of a five game series. My roomate believes the World Series Champion is not the best team.....just the hottest team. In a sport that is so mental....I think it is the teams that stay relaxed that have the best shot. Man do I feel for Cubbie fans this season. Great blog!
Ben H   Sunday, October 5, 2008
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