The Cubs have made plenty of headlines lately, but none of it has to do with flying those white-and-blue “W” flags. Instead, this offseason has been brought to you by the letter “R”...rooftops, Rosemont, rebuilding, and so on. Thankfully (maybe?), real baseball starts today. Sports writer Jeff Arnold and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: This time of year, I always make a trip to YouTube to listen to Steve Goodman’s “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request.” It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s perfect. In the song, Goodman asks, “Do they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around? / When the snow melts away, do the Cubbies still play in their ivy-covered burial ground?” Sadly, I’m afraid that answer is yes.
Arnold: I think Wrigley Field’s official troubadour may be onto something, especially when he goes on to refer to the Cubs as the chief tenants of the National League’s basement. Cubs fans tend to favor Goodman’s popular “Go, Cubs, Go”, but hopefully good ol’ Steve isn’t counting on too many royalties on a per-play basis. I just see this year being another step in Theo Epstein’s rebuilding process. Maybe he can swing a deal with the Blackhawks to have “Chelsea Dagger” piped in just for kicks?
Musick: I think every loss should be accompanied by Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” Honestly, what do Cubs fans have to look forward to this season? Anything?
Arnold: Does not losing 101 games count? I do think Epstein and his “Cubs Way” has this team moving in the right direction and sorry, Rosemont, that doesn’t involve ivy growing anywhere near O’Hare’s friendly confines. There’s a lot to like with youngsters like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. But there’s no way the Cubs are in the thick of it at the All-Star break is there?
Musick: I sure don’t think so. Even if they are, I would guess that the Cubs would trade a veteran or three in late July in exchange for some younger prospects. I’m trying to stay patient with Epstein’s long-term plan, but when exactly does he plan to deliver a legitimate major league product, let alone a contender? Do we give him a free pass until 2015? I think we all wish we had that kind of job security.
Arnold: I think there are worse things in life than being baseball’s resident Doogie Howser (Does that age me too much?). But given Epstein’s history with the Red Sox, Cubs fans expect the same here in Chicago. I think his plea for patience starts to wear thin if the Cubs lose 90-plus games again. Right now, I just don’t see a lot with the current product that screams contender. So what’s another season to see some winning? I, mean, heck, it’s been what – 104 years?
Musick: Yep, and this season will make it 105. Oh, well. Here’s hoping that Anthony Rizzo hits 25 home runs, Jeff Samardzija strikes out 200 batters, and Jim Deshaies is half as good as Bob Brenly as the new TV color analyst. What’s on your Cubs wish list?
Arnold: I’d settle for the Cubs just being relevant again. The people will show up regardless. But count me among those who wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs white flag waving rather than being a sign of surrender. And if Steve Bartman and Moises Alou could do the Seventh Inning Stretch together to commemorate their 10th anniversary, that would just be icing on the cake.