Minutes into Sunday’s game, the Cubs’ last before the All-Star break, the tweets started rolling in. Chicago surrendered 10 runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates in just the first inning and people were tripping over themselves to poke fun at the reigning champs.
“Are you mad?”
“Is it doomsday yet?”
Much to the disappointment of the Twitter trolls, my answer is no.
The primary reason I’m not bothered by the Cubs’ sub .500 record is right there in the first paragraph: “reigning champs.” This fan base waited 108 years to win it all and I’m not going to let the excitement I still feel about that be dampened by premature whispers of my team’s decline. Any fan who thought the Cubs would run away with another season like 2016 was set up for disappointment. Last year was magical and the fact that it’s not happening again immediately doesn’t change that at all.
I also haven’t forgotten who’s in charge. Just five years ago, the 2012 Cubs were limping to one of the worst records in club history at 61-101. They were sending out a starting pitcher who didn’t win a game for a literal year. By 2015, an almost entirely different roster and new manager Joe Maddon earned a spot in the postseason. Theo Epstein and the rest of the front office turned the Cubs from one of the worst teams I’ve ever watched into a World Series winner. Why on earth would I question their ability to course-correct after half of a bad season?
The 2017 Cubs may not look like the 2016 Cubs on the stat sheet, but many key pieces are still with the team and will be for some time. The only major, looming contract expirations belong to pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis. Outfielder Jon Jay is also on a one-year deal. Most of the Cubs’ core group—players like MVP Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, and Albert Almora Jr.—are all in long-term deals.
And it’s not the end of the world when players like Schwarber struggle. Because they are champs, it’s easy to forget that some of them only have a couple years of MLB service under their belts. The average age of position players on the active roster is just 26 years old.
People can joke all they want, but Cub fans shouldn’t feel gloomy. No matter what anyone says on Twitter, the team is young and the future’s still bright.