By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Nothing to see here. Move along.
No, really – keep going, since none of it matters, and the images may haunt you for years by creeping into your dreams.
Rafael Dolis-induced night-sweats are only the beginning. Wait for the eventual encephalopathy caused by overexposure to low on-base percentage, the bleeding from the eyes as a direct result of reading the full terms of Alfonso Soriano’s contract, and the risk of heart arrhythmia upon considering that something called Joe Mather ever batted third in a major-league lineup.
Consuming Cubs baseball is simply unhealthy right now, if it matters to you.
Outcomes of games this year have nothing to do with how close they are to winning the World Series, so there’s no point investing any feeling in them. If you want to pay attention, do so at a calculated, aware, emotional distance. If you need to care, care about the upcoming draft.
That’s the concern of the men running the franchise, and it can be yours as well. When it’s time once again to compete for something, only two or three current Cubs will be involved. Maybe fewer. The tear-down is not yet complete, and the rebuilding is in its infancy.
Any shortsighted complaints about the current on-field product are ignored, as they should be. Theo Epstein needn’t care a whit about Darwin Barney. If you asked Jed Hoyer about Jeff Baker, he’d probably say he has no idea who you’re talking about, brushing you off as he rewinds video of high school sluggers with scouting chief Jason McLeod.
Starlin Castro remains a material player, as far as we know. After that, guys are only important to the extent that they may be turned into any youth or potential at the trading deadline. Could Matt Garza return the same kind of prospect-rich package he commanded upon his arrival? Would Ryan Dempster waive his no-trade rights to join a contender?
The clamoring to call up Anthony Rizzo before his service-time clock allows is just stupid, fed by a combination of misplaced competitive desire and complete lack of understanding what’s going on here. The whole concept of the new, modern baseball business is to have prime assets under contractual control for as long as possible – not to make players more expensive earlier in the vain attempt to turn awful into possibly-slightly-less-awful.
Also dumb is worrying about the Cubs’ closer. Dramatic, late-game flameouts seem to raise greater ire as if something were actually at stake. Nothing is, so cool it. When they need to have a closer, they’ll get one.
Tom Ricketts is partially to blame for the disconnect, since he made all kinds of spring-training statements about this year’s team being competitive. He seems to be developing a talent for being both disingenuous and wrong, so keep that in mind when you consider anything that comes out of his mouth, in this case after the fact.
When pressed, many fans try to acknowledge some awareness of the size, scope and timetable of the organizational overhaul, but still can’t let go of what seems like some level of expectations for a cipher of a team. We often hear something like “I knew the Cubs were going to be bad, but I had no idea they were going to be THIS bad.”
What’s the difference?
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