Chicago Cubs: 4 Reasons to Continue Watching
The true fans will fight conventional wisdom and continue to tune in to their TVs and fill the seats in Wrigley. After all, "fan" is short for fanatic, and nothing demonstrates "extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal" quite like ceasing to live and die with next year's team.
There are, in addition to the inexplicable forces of fandom, reasons to continue watching the remainder of the 2012 Cubs campaign. Here are the most compelling.
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Anthony Rizzo made his highly anticipated debut for the Cubs Tuesday night.
In late May while playing for the AAA Iowa Cubs, Rizzo left a game in the sixth inning. A media firestorm ensued. Everyone wanted to know "did they remove him to ship him up to the big league squad?"
Unbeknownst to the public, Rizzo had injured his wrist and was pulled as a precautionary measure. The question shifted from "did they promote him?" to "when are they going to promote him?"
President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein addressed the issue simply saying "we're not going to rush him" and that "we're going to wait until the time is right, with his development being the primary factor." (via the Chicago Tribune)
Rizzo's play in AAA (.342 AVG, 23 HR, .405 OBP, .696 SLG) forced the front office's hand.
Now that he's up with the big league club, Anthony Rizzo has become the story in Chicago. Fans will be able to get their first glimpse of one of the farm system's biggest prizes.
Will he deliver, or will his first stint with the Cubs remind fans of his MLB trial with the Padres? (128 PA, .141 BA, 1 HR, 46 Ks)
See Fan Favorites' Last Games as Cubs
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With a full-on rebuild underway, it seems a matter if when—not if—some of the players Cubs fans have grown to love will be traded by the franchise.
Prior to his DL stint, Ryan Dempster was one of the hottest pitchers in the major leagues. When he returns to the club, trade conversations involving the right-hander are likely to resume. With just a little over a month remaining until the July 31st MLB trade deadline, Dempster's return may mark some of his final starts as a Cub.
Similarly, Alfonso Soriano's midseason offensive spark has him seemingly playing his way into a trade. While his contract and inconsistent production have made him a polarizing player in Chicago, he's still managed to win over some Cubs fans in his six seasons with the club.
Preview Next Year's Team
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A front office determined to rebuild has made it clear: next year's Cubs team might look very different than the one on the field this season.
Jed Hoyer, General Manager of the Cubs said (Via the Chicago Tribune):
"You've got to be somewhat patient to get out of it, but we're also very open to making moves. A lot of our conversations are what we can do to shake things up, what we can do to change the roster a little bit. We'll keep looking at those things."
While every trade means the departure of one (or more) hometown heroes, it also brings in return new hope either directly—a hot prospect being added to the farm system—or indirectly— the departure of a veteran freeing up room on the team's payroll.
Either way, the selling frenzy the Cubs seem poised to go on will bring in new names, add some flexibility for the offseason and provide a glimmer of hope that next season might not be such a bad one in the North Side.
If you bleed blue, you're looking for anything to convince yourself that this year wasn't a total loss. Watching the front office deal in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline will offer a small consolation and give fans some names to look forward to in the near future.
Keep Chicago a Free-Agent Destination
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One of the biggest ways fans can help their rebuilding ball club is to remain resilient. Despite things not going well, real fans don't desert their team.
While it may not be the No. 1 priority on any big free agent's list, an unwavering fanbase is a nice supplement to a club already offering a multi-million dollar contract to play in one of America's best cities.
For the players, it adds a little peace of mind that fans in their new city won't turn on them if they have a slow start in their first season. Plus, who likes playing for fair-weather fans?
By continuing to fill up Wrigley and tune in at home, Cubs fans will keep Chicago a great destination for free agents.