I have realized almost all of my posts nowadays are #TinThoughts. This has basically just become a sports diary for me to get all of my thoughts out. It essentially is my therapy session and I am perfectly okay with that.
The Cubs season ended last night. It sucked. Losing in October is absolutely gut wrenching. There is no way to truly prepare for it. Playoff baseball is as dramatic as it gets and ending up on the wrong side of drama is never a good place to be.
As for the game, I refuse to put this game on Joe. He is the easy scapegoat for Cubs fans all the time. He makes a lot of bonehead decisions in game, I have been on record saying that. There is nothing he did to cost the Chicago Cubs this game. Taking out Jon Lester was the right move. The Cubs had no offense and their window of opportunity was closing rapidly. Leading off an inning with Jon Lester all but guarantees another inning of no runs. They needed something to spark the offense. Unfortunately, the hits never came. There is only one group that deserves blame and that is the Chicago Cubs offense. You cannot score a total of 2 runs in high pressure games in October and expect to win. The pitching put their balls on the table and did everything in their power. Jon Lester once again proved he is as dependable as they come. Everyone that pitched left it all out there. The game sucked. Simple as that.
As for 2018, by Cubs standards it has to go down as a disappointment. The Cubs have gotten to the status where anything less than a World Series Championship is a disappointment. This season as a standalone based off everything the team has gone through was actually not too bad. If I were to tell you before the season started that Kris Bryant would be out majority of the season, Brandon Morrow would be out majority of the season, and Yu Darvish would pitch 40 innings with 1 win then you would assume the Cubs probably didn’t make the playoffs. This team won 95 games and were caught by a team of destiny in the last month of the season. People are calling for Joe’s head but if you look at what he did with what he had to work with it’s beyond impressive.
This brings me to Joe Maddon. I am sure Chicago sports radio will be filled with callers that want Joe axed. I am not part of this movement. The Cubs have won the most games in the MLB in the last 4 years. The Cubs have made the postseason 4 years in a row, something that has never been done in franchise history. Joe Maddon cannot make the Cubs hit the baseball. Let me ask you this questions, who else is out there that you think will really make that big of a difference? Is there really a manager out there that makes you go “man, if we had that guy then this team would win 120 game for sure”? The answer to that question is no. Pointing the blame to Joe Maddon is an easy, lazy approach. Pointing the blame to Theo Epstein’s offseason signings is another easy, lazy approach. Can you really blame Theo for injuries and his other offseason acquisition having the equivalent of the pitching yips? These same people blaming Theo are probably the same people who thought the 2018 Cubs pitching staff was going one of the best in MLB history. Let me ask the people blaming offseason signings a question, what about Theo going out and stealing Daniel Murphy, Jesse Chavez, and Cole Hamels? Does he get any credit for that or are we only throwing stones?
I will allow you to blame one person on the coaching staff this season. I am not crazy about blaming coaches for on field performance but if you want to blame Chili Davis for offensive struggles and inconsistencies then that is fine by me. In 2017, the Cubs had 6 players hit over 20 homeruns. This season the Cubs had 3 players over 20 homeruns. Willson Contreras went from 21 homeruns to 10 homeruns. The Chicago Cubs scored 1 run or less in 40 games this season yet were 4th in the NL in runs scored. You cannot have that type of inconsistency and expect to make a run in October. Theo and company will look into the analytics and make the best decision going forward. I trust whatever they decide when it comes to Chili Davis.
Inconsistency killed the 2018 Chicago Cubs. If the bullpen and hitting was performing well, then the starters were doing terrible. If the pitching was out of this world then the offense was scoring 1 run in a do or die playoff game. There were very few times when the entire team clicked at once. It’s as simple as that.
The big questions now is where do the Cubs go from here? The good news is none of the core players are up for free agency. The Cubs will have virtually the exact same offensive lineup next season should they choose. Obviously, I think Addison Russell will politely be shown the door. The Cubs also have young assets they can move for pitching help. They could keep Cole Hamels for a pretty penny but he will be 35 years old next season. Oh not to mention, there is this free agent out there named Bryce Harper. The Cubs need to do everything they can to go out and sign Bryce. They print money on the North Side of Chicago. A generational talent like Bryce only comes around every so often. Sign Bryce. Flip Ian Happ, Russell, and/or Almora for some pitching. Darvish will hopefully come back healthy next season. This team will be back.
I am going to let my friend Andy Bernard say something before my final thoughts.
Cubs fans, I am here to tell you these are the good ol days. These are the days you tell your children about. Soak it in. Think about what it was like to lose 100 games a year. Winning a World Series is so damn hard. The window of opportunity is not shut for this group of players. It isn’t over just yet. Theo will make whatever changes are necessary. This team will once again be up there as an favorite to win the World Series again next year. Don’t lose the faith after one quick exit in October. This is a great time to be a Cubs fan. Believe.
Psssst, the Bears are in first place in the NFC North.