The Chicago Cubs are running a hype train so vicious it can only be paralleled to the ones in 2004 or 2008. If that’s not scaring the living hell out of you, then there’s something wrong.
It’s like that one movie with Chris Pine and Denzel. You know that one. It’s literally an hour and a half of two guys on a train trying to stop it, and if they don’t, it’ll like tip over in a town or something like that.
That’s the Cubs — except the train is hype, and the city is Chicago.
Let’s get a quick refresher on the two years I previously mentioned.
2004 was a story of redemption, cloaked in the trade deadline addition of Nomar Garciaparra and a top-flight pitching staff. 2008 was a story of exacting dominance, winning 97 games with the most experienced lineup in the sport.
Neither came to fruition, and nothing but a puddle of muddy shit water on Addison and Clark remained.
Which brings us to a head.
2016 brought 97 wins. How many people pegged the Cubs to win 97 games last year? If you had asked me the best case scenario at the beginning of the season for the AAA Chicago Cubs, I would have maybe said 90 wins.
So many things had to go right to win 97 games, and they did.
Injuries stayed at a minimum. A Cy Young winner took the mound every five days. Joe Maddon took a baseball team and turned it into a brotherhood. The emergence of a legitimate closer, spot starters pitched well, and the offense never seemed to fall completely flat.
Young ball players played like experienced veterans.
And that’s what I beg you to remember. These are still kids—granted with a full year of big league ball and playoff run under their belt— and they are still young ball players.
My hopes for the 2016 season are as high as the guy sitting next to me. But take a step back and look at the team with two feet planted squarely on the ground.
97 wins is hard to accomplish. You know what’s even harder? 98 wins.
With five players entering their second season it would be disingenuous to believe that all five will perform better than they did last season — even one or two completely avoiding the sophomore slump.
We need to remind ourselves this is still baseball and slumps happen all the time. Injuries happen just as often.
I’m not saying that they can’t surpass that 97 win total from 2015, or even that they won’t. All I’m saying is keep your grand expectations at something less than a radioactive level.
This is a World Series caliber ball club that hasn’t won a World Series.
Guys are going to struggle. Losing streaks are inevitable. Injuries, too. The adage in baseball is every team wins 54 games, and every team loses 54 games. As fans, we love to love when they’re winning but support them when they suck.
It makes the winning that much better. Adversity can be enjoyable when you know what it is.
We are at the ground level right now of what could become an empire in the baseball world. 2016 is going to be an amazing year for the Chicago Cubs and their fans, but when these kids hit a slump or two, it’s not an indictment on the big picture.
It’s just baseball.