Joe Maddon recently said that the Cubs would go through a rough stretch this season that included actual losing. Cubs fans smiled at the manager, then went back to trying to predict the date the team would get to 120 victories. June 16 seemed to be the consensus.
At the risk of bringing your buzz down from rapture to mere ecstasy, might I suggest that a little get-together with struggle and strife could be a good thing for the team and especially its fan base? I bring this up because of the overwrought reaction to Garrit Cole’s assessment Sunday that the Cubs aren’t the best team in baseball. You would have thought the Pirates’ ace had said pandas needed to be wiped from the earth.
Maddon handled it the right way, saying he doesn’t worry about things like that. The people outside the clubhouse? Like scandalized churchgoers.
Clearly, there’s a ways to go before Cubs fans get the hang of acting like they have the best team in baseball. If you’re used to this kind of success, you don’t care what Cole says. You don’t care what anybody says. And that’s mostly the way the manager and the players reacted, even though the franchise hasn’t won a World Series since 1908.
People are riding a little too high. This is not a coronation. There’s no Manifest Destiny here. Just because the Cubs are mowing down opponents and are indeed the best team in baseball right now doesn’t mean that they will be the last team standing in October.
There’s work to do, and that’s going to involve a stretch or stretches in which the club doesn’t play well at all. It happens in a 162-game schedule. Even to these Cubs.
A reality check is in order. Enjoy the hell out of this season but remember that the team hasn’t won anything yet, didn’t win the division last season and has many challenges ahead. Baseball is hard, no matter how easy it seems now. A little perspective goes a long way.