By Shawn Muller–
If there is one thing I have learned from being a Chicago Cubs fan my whole life, it is the uncanny ability to be overly-optimistic about the teams’ chances during the summer.
In 2011, however, I am going to try a different approach.
Instead of trying to convince myself that “this is the year” like I have done in years past, I have decided that this is finally the year that I will not put myself through such a gut-wrenching ordeal.
Every time the Cubs have given me–and every other fan around the globe–a reason to be optimistic in thinking the team actually has a chance to win their first World Series title since…what feels like the invention of the wheel…reality soon sets in, and the team always finds a way to bring us crashing back down to earth.
OK, so maybe I exaggerated a bit on the “drought,” but does it really matter? Is there really a difference between 103 years and the dawn of mankind? In baseball years…not really.
So goes the life of a Cubs fan, I guess.
I will still root as hard as I ever have for the Cubbies, I will still hold out hope that THIS is the year, and I will still watch every game that I can. But I will not try to convince myself that this year’s team has what it takes to win the N.L. Central (as I have done, seemingly every year in the past)…let alone the World Series.
There are just too many question marks surrounding this team:
How will long will it take for Carlos Zambrano to self-destruct? How long will it take before Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano find the disabled list? How will Mike Quade handle an entire season as the teams’ manager? Will Carlos Pena be able to rebound from his injury that caused him to have a sub-standard offensive season in his final year in Tampa Bay, and how will he adjust to his first season in the National League?
There are many more questions to be answered that I have neglected to mention above, but you get the idea. It is not just the question marks surrounding the Cubs that are making me take a step back this season. It also has to do with the division.
The 2010 N.L. Central Division Champion Cincinnati Reds return their entire lineup from last season…and add fire-baller Aroldis Chapman. The St. Louis Cardinals did lose Adam Wainwright for the season, but added Lance Berkman’s bat and you know they will find an un-heralded pitcher to pick up the void left by Wainwright in the rotation: they always do. The Milwaukee Brewers still have their core of Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart on offense, but added former Cy Young Winner, Zack Greinke to an already solid pitching staff.
I am sorry, but I just can’t see the Cubs beating out any of those three for the division title.
Opening Day is always a special day if you are a baseball fan.
Regardless of how you think your team will finish the season, everyone is tied for first place for at least one day. Crazy things have happened in Major League Baseball, and this year promises more of the same.
Will the Cubs play beyond expectations and make a surprise run to the playoffs? Who knows?
I, however, am not going to get my hopes up.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.