Enjoy the Ride!

 

Dear Cubs Fans,

Now that we've hit the All-Star break. I have a message for you. It's very simple. You Ready? Okay here it goes: SHUT UP AND ENJOY THE RIDE!!!

I used to be just like you. I would panic every time they lost a game to a team with a worse record, which really is not smart, because it’s baseball and bad teams beat good teams in regular season series all the time. I would stress over lineup changes, little injuries, and bullpens with the reliability of your friend {insert a-hole friend's name here}. I wouldn’t get up if they were winning while I was sitting in a particular seat. I wouldn’t answer the phone. I would literally knock on wood anytime I thought the announcer said something that I deemed a possible jinx. Then, something happened. That something was the hiring of Joe Maddon.

It was during the Maddon press conference at The Cubby Bear that made me open my eyes, or as you kids like to say, I “woke”. Cubs President Theo Epstein and G.M. Jed Hoyer had got their guy. Now, I have to admit that I was a believer in Theo’s plan from jump street. It wasn’t simply because Epstein had already beaten one so-called curse, it was because he didn’t lie to us. Most people in that position on day one would fill their fan base with false hopes, but not Theo. He straight up told Cubs fans the truth. The truth was that we were no where near ready to compete for baseball’s top prize. The organization was decades behind where it needed to be in every facet of the game. The Cubs were a backwards thinking, afraid of technology, old scout network organization with a crumbling infrastructure. A lot like America in many sad ways. So here comes Theo preaching a bottom up rebuild and asking the fans to have a little patience. I thought what the hell, nothing else has worked, might as well listen to the Yale grade with two World Series titles by the age of 35 under his belt. The Cubs from 2012 to 2014 were bad. Really, really bad. They weren’t as painful as the 2006, 2010, or 2011 Cubs. Teams that would just bandaid some past their prime veterans together with an aging nucleus. Older fans like to claim the Cubs had tried rebuilding before and it never worked. The thing is there is a difference between rebuilding and just plain sucking. The ‘06, ‘10, and ‘11 teams just flat out sucked. If you’re trying to rebuild, you don’t sign Marlon Byrd to a 3 year deal at the age of 30. You go young!!! You trade aging players and pending free agents for younger players on controllable contracts. The key to winning it all in baseball is that you have to be a perennial contender. Yes, there are examples of one and done teams, but the vast majority, not just in baseball, are teams that are constantly knocking on the door. They’re built first with a strong minor league system. You have to start with the basement if you’re going to build a mansion. The Cubs did that. Then, it’s when the time is right you complement your young core with free agents, but more importantly, you go get your manager. And boy, did the Cubs get their guy.

Just a week after announcing that they were bringing back Manager Rick Renteria, Maddon became available and the Cubs went out and got him! They said, this is the guy. A manager known for his ability to handle young talent and for embracing new school ideas. The perfect blend for what Theo was trying to do. But what about Rick Renteria? Who cares! He’s not Joe Maddon and that’s all you need to know! I was so pumped at that news conference that saw Joe Maddon putting on Cubs pinstripes over his flannel, that I told myself I was done knocking on wood. I was done thinking what happened in ‘45, ‘69, ‘84, and ‘03 would have anything to do with any Cubs team going forward. This was truly a new era. Maddon said, “I’m going to talk playoffs this year and I’m going to mean it.” The Cubs won 97 games and eliminated both the Pirates and Cardinals from the post-season before running into a red hot homophobe in Daniel Murphy and the New York Mets. When the final out of the 4 game NLCS sweep was over, I was down, but I remained upbeat. This wasn’t 2003 where we blew a 3 games to 1 lead. Side note: I would have a nightmare about that series against the Marlins once a week for the next 7 years. I’m serious too. No, the 2015 playoff loss, was different because we knew this was just the start of something special. Not like in ‘07 and ‘08 where the average age was 32 and you just knew this team had a small window to win it all. These current Cubs don’t have a window, they have a fucking garage door open. The core of this team will be together for at least 6 years if not longer. So when I see Cubs fans panic over 3 bad weeks in which the Cubs were 5-16, I get it, but also. Relax! Enjoy the ride. This is all part of baseball. It’s a 162 game season! The Cubs had played 24 games in 24 days leading into the All-Star break. The injury to Dexter Fowler along with the bullpen and a tired rotation has also been a big factor in the teams recent struggles. I trust Theo and Jed will address the pen woes, and maybe even add another bat and starting pitcher. We have the trade chips to do it. You know the Cubs, who have the second best record in all of baseball and a 7 game lead in the N.L. Central, are in a good place when people say, “I hope they turn it around in the second half”. Think about that.

I believe the biggest reason I’m emphasizing the need to “enjoy the ride,” is simply because I can’t think of anything worse than being a doubting/ wait and see/ same old Cubbies/ type of Cubs fan. Because what’s going to happen when the Cubs do win the World Series? How are you going to live with yourself knowing you thought the way you did. Do you honestly think you’ll get to enjoy it the same way as the rest of us who were there believing in them from day one? When Schwarber went down, we were there praising Theo for building a team with depth, and you were saying, “here we go again”. Do you think you get to celebrate the same way we do? You’re out of your mind. We know who you are and what you were doing. Naysaying over the course of 162 games. You’re not going to get to enjoy this the same way we will. Don’t worry, we’ll still high five you, but it won’t be with as much heart as it will be for the fans who were actually out there, enjoying the ride.
Love,
Joe Kilgallon P.S. Go Cubs!

Joe Kilgallon is a stand up comedian who's new comedy album 'Pay Attention' can be purchased at joekilgallon.com. Joe also has his own podcast Comedian Talking Sports available on iTunes

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