Somewhere in the sports-executive handbook, there must be a whole section on tamping down fans’ expectations. The goal is to insulate a team and its players from outside pressures. It’s meant for protection.
Jed Hoyer was tamping away valiantly and futilely at the general managers meetings the other day.
“One of the hardest parts when you get into a period of winning, I think, is there’s no question you raise expectations to a certain level,’’ the Cubs GM said. “You never want to get into a situation where it’s win or it’s a disappointing season. Would I say it’s ‘World Series or bust?’ That’s not a fair thing to put on a team.’’
Nice try, Jed.
It will be disappointing if the Cubs don’t win the World Series next season. And it’s absolutely fair to expect such a thing after a fantastic 2015. That expectation is a compliment. It’s an acknowledgement of the job that Hoyer, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, manager Joe Maddon and the players did last season.
The Cubs are favored to win it all next season by at least one online betting service. In the next five months, you can count on more than a few media outlets predicting them to win the 2016 World Series. Cubs fans have every reason to believe the team can build on its appearance in the National League Championship Series last season.
The idea, we’ve been told again and again by Cubs brass, is “sustained success.’’ But the real goal is a World Series title in the season that is in front of you. That’s 2016. Add a couple of pitchers to the rotation, and the Cubs should indeed be the World Series favorite. Anything less would be a bummer.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Cubs could go from 97 victories in 2015 to 89 or 90 in 2016 and not regress. They could also win the World Series with that regular-season victory total.
It’s all about a championship now. Sorry, Jed.