Old Ma Nature decided to give us all a little mental break last night, and she rained out the Cubs regularly scheduled win against the San Diego Padres.Â I think we all needed it.Â I was asleep by nine oâ€™clockâ€”on the couch, no lessâ€”mostly because our beloved, elderly dog decided 2 a.m. was enough sleep for me the night before.
As much fun as the Cubs incredible 24-6 start has been, I was pretty happy to see that the game had been â€œbangedâ€ and put off as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday.Â Then, they get another day off on Thursday.
And, frankly, I think we all need a little break.Â And itâ€™s for the dumbest of all reasons.Â But then, weâ€™re Cubs fans, so we all do dumb reasons.
We need to make sure weâ€™re enjoying this enough.Â How silly is that?Â
But then, weâ€™re Cubs fans, so we all do silly.
That the Cubs are good, is no surprise to us.Â Now itâ€™s a surprise to people in St. Louis, because theyâ€™ve long ago decided that the Cubs will never win anything because theyâ€™re the Cubs.Â But people in St. Louis are surprised by lots of things.Â In no particular order they are surprised by:
- People in their 30s who still have teeth
- People in the summer who wear jeans all the way to their feet
- Anybody whose name ends in â€œzâ€ that can speak English
- That Camaros donâ€™t come with cigarette lighters anymore
- Not that Budweiser is changing itâ€™s awful flagship beer name to America for the summer, but that America starts with an â€˜aâ€™ and not just an apostrophe (â€˜Merica)
But we knew the Cubs were going to be good.Â They won 97 games last year, they made it to the NLCS, and they got better over the winter.
But nobody knew theyâ€™d be this good.Â They are historically good.Â Like â€œbest start since the 1984 Tigers good.â€Â Like best start by an NL team since the 1906 Cubs, good.Â Like â€œhave played 30 games and still havenâ€™t had a losing streakâ€ good.
This team can not only pitch and hit, but they do things that even the oldest among us have never seen Cubs teams do.Â They run the bases like they actually know where theyâ€™re going.Â They play excellent defense (despite what Steve Stone said last nightâ€”but thatâ€™s just Steve Stone being an asshole, which we all know is his default position).Â The bullpen makes things better and not worse.Â The guys on the bench can actually play.Â
Hereâ€™s a unique problem for kids who are Cubs fans.Â How do they pick who their favorite player is?Â There are too many to choose from.Â Iâ€™m a grown man, and even Iâ€™m not sure who it is (well, itâ€™s Luis Valbuena, and Iâ€™m sure heâ€™ll be reacquired here any day now).
Consider that the first team I actually remember was the 1981 Cubs.Â Oh, what a talented bunch they were.Â My realistic choice for favorite player was either Bill Buckner orâ€¦ well, it was Bill Buckner.Â I made the right (and only) choice.
I guess it could have been Leon Durham, but heâ€™d just been acquired in a trade (with the great Ken Reitz) for Bruce Sutter, and so, yeah, it wasnâ€™t going to be Leon Durham.
(Reitz is responsible for one of the great Cubs-related quotes of all-time.Â After they released him in 1982 he said, â€œThe worst thing about being cut by the Cubs is that they make you keep your season tickets.â€)
Now, growing up, I had it easier than than kids born say, ten years before me.Â In short order I had Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson and Greg Maddux to follow.Â Things got better.
But if youâ€™re eight or nine years old now how do you choose between Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Jake Arrieta, Addison Russell or Tim Federowicz?Â
If youâ€™re going to be all counter-culture and pick one off the board who do you go with, Javy Baez?Â He was the sixth pick in the draft.Â Heâ€™s basically just a pulsing ball of awesome baseball talent just trying to figure out what form itâ€™s going to take.Â
But this brings me to us.Â The so-called â€œadultsâ€ who for no sane reason have decided that weâ€™re going to keep watching the Chicago Cubs, year after year, no matter what.Â Any sane person would have left long ago, but here we are.Â
And weâ€™re staring down the business end of what we always dreamt of , but never thought weâ€™d see.Â The Cubs are the best team in baseball.Â Itâ€™s not even close.Â
Itâ€™s May 10th and the Cardinals are already TEN games behind the Cubs in the loss column.Â Pissburgh comesÂ into town this weekend and if they donâ€™t win two out of three at least, theyâ€™re going to have to seriously consider the division race is already over.Â
So whatâ€™s the problem?Â The problem, of course, is that those of us who arenâ€™t brand new to this are about 80 percent scar tissue at this point.Â All of us lived through the 2003 NLCS and the horrific end to the 2004 season.Â Many of us remember the 1984 NLCS.Â
And while we get pissed off when dopes who root for (or play for) other teams scoff and say that the Cubs will always blow it, weâ€™re guilty of it, too.Â
The scariest thing about the Cubs being historically good is what if theyâ€™re just setting us up for the mother of all collapses?Â If my dad were still around heâ€™d love this team, and heâ€™d be all excited, and heâ€™d constantly be reminding me that the 1969 Cubs had a nine game lead on August 16.
So what are we going to do about it?Â
Weâ€™re going to stop worrying about it and weâ€™re just going to enjoy it.Â In this space last year we discussed how great it was that as the 2015 Cubs roared into August they were unconcerned and ill-informed about the specific past failures of their franchise.Â They just kept winning because they were good at baseball, and good players make good teams, and good teams win games.Â And we decided to not worry about it, and we mostly didnâ€™t, and not only did they not blow it, but they beat the Cardinals in the first-ever playoff series between the two and it was just the greatest thing ever.Â So it worked.
So letâ€™s do it again.Â Because the 2015 Cubs didnâ€™t give a shit about the past.
This 2016 team is no different.Â If you asked them if they ever thought theyâ€™d be 24-6 to start the season, theyâ€™d tell you yes, because they knew they were good.Â The only thing they are ever concerned about is winning that dayâ€™s game.Â
So, weâ€™re not waiting until August this year to talk ourselves off the ledge.Â This is too much fun to watch, to be watching it between your fingers with a hand over your face.Â I canâ€™t promise you that these Cubs are going to win the whole thing.Â The best team doesnâ€™t always win.Â But the best way to win something is to be the best at it, because most of the timeâ€¦the best team wins.
Hereâ€™s how good these Cubs are.Â The tough guy fans, in St. Louis and on the south side, and wherever else they get great satisfaction when the Cubs lose, are shitting themselves.Â They rely on the one constant in their lives being that the Cubs suck.Â They tattoo it on their fat upper arms.Â They spend $180 of money they donâ€™t have on custom Cardinals jerseys that say BARTMAN 03.Â When they take the bus home at night to their single-wide trailer and they slide the Hungry Man TV dinner off of their hot plate, they sit down to watch the Cubs lose and hope that maybe that will provide enough arousal for them to sustain an erection long enough so that their third cousin wonâ€™t have to just fold it over and cram it in, again.Â
Those people are worried.Â These Cubs donâ€™t look like a fluke.Â They donâ€™t play like a fluke.Â They play like a really well constructed baseball team, that was assembled to lay waste to the rest of the league, and is Hell bent to do it.
The Cubs lost Kyle Schwarber in the second inning of the third game of the season.Â And heâ€™s really good, and he was going to have a monster year.Â And theyâ€™re still destroying other teams without him.Â
Theyâ€™re not fucking around.Â Theyâ€™re not waiting for next year.Â Theyâ€™re not even waiting until tomorrow.Â If thereâ€™s a game on the schedule today they want to win it.Â
And theyâ€™re not even dicks about it.Â They genuinely enjoy playing, and they genuinely enjoy playing with each other.Â
Last yearâ€™s team was the first time weâ€™d seen that in a long time.Â And because weâ€™re Cubs fans and if a butterfly flaps its wings in Asia, then Jorge Soler drops a fly ball in Denver or whatever, we were sure that even though they replaced our pal Starlin Castro and everybodyâ€™s favorite gum bucket head Jonny Herrera with better players, that the â€œmixâ€ would be off and it wouldnâ€™t work.Â
Weâ€™re just the dumbest.
So, the Giants can accuse them of stealing signs in March, and the Pirates can throw at guys in May to try to atone for their Wild Card Game ineptness, and the Nats can accuse them of â€œplaying scaredâ€ by not pitching to Bryce Harper when their manager isnâ€™t smart enough to bat an unembalmed player behind him, and the Cardinals can say, â€œWhatever, 11 rings!â€ over and over.Â It doesnâ€™t matter.Â And it wonâ€™t matter.
The weakest words in the English language are always and never.Â Nothing ever happens all the time, and nothing never happens.Â You can say, â€œThe Cubs will always suck and theyâ€™ll never win the World Series.â€Â And maybe youâ€™ll feel better about your situation for a few seconds.Â But youâ€™ll be wrong.
And at this rate, youâ€™re going to be wrong pretty fucking soon.
And we donâ€™t have time for you.Â Weâ€™re too busy.Â We happen to root for the best team in baseball, and theyâ€™re playing again tonight, and weâ€™re not going to miss it.