By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) And we can close the book on the 2016 Cubs and all that was, choosing arbitrarily the morning of June 29, 2017 to make a marking point of the end of the championship honeymoon and the beginning of the next thing. It might not be good for a little while.
After getting trounced by the Nationals on Wednesday night, the Cubs are 39-39 and lucky to still be competing in a bad division. The only right move of the day was cutting their loudmouth backup catcher after he aired out a struggling teammate, news that overshadowed the Cubs’ surreal, forced appearance with the strangest president. Then their best player got hurt.
Kris Bryant will be out for a little while, Kyle Schwarber is trying to reboot his whole system in the cornfields and the disabled list includes Kyle Hendricks, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. John Lackey is batting practice, and Jake Arrieta a different kind of struggle with every appearance. Addison Russell’s throwing shoulder is ailing, all while he faces an open-ended MLB inquest to determine if he hit his soon-to-be-ex wife. Good times all around.
Boxes of increasingly discounted cereals are stacked up at the local Jewel in a way that screams desperation. RizzOs, Zorilla Crunch and Grandpa Rossy Crunch beg for our love and attention, like so many adorable puppies looking for an adopted home, a mocking reminder of how quickly fortunes can change.
But this could also be a bottom call for the market, the factors aligning to put a clear “buy” signal on 2017 Cubs stock. It couldn’t get much worse for the defending champs at the moment, with plenty of upside still envisioned realistically with more than half the season remaining.
It’s a different and lesser product now, to be sure, but it would be as foolish to deny remaining potential as it would to ignore current reality.