The second half the season hasn't worked out quite as we planned has it?
Dropping three of the first four out of the gates hurts. Both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers are now just two games behind us. Our offense looks more like the Seattle Mariners than the Cubbies we knew just two months ago.
Other than that nine run outburst in the finale against Houston on Sunday, the best offense in baseball was held to just two runs in three games. Awesome.
Both the Brewers and Cardinals swept their opponents over the weekend. Fantastic.
Kerry Wood might be hurt again. So it begins.
That's what we've been bred to say at this point in the season. "Here we go again" and "Well, it was fun while it lasted." That's what we Cubs fans do in July isn't it?
What does Cubs stand for? Completely Useless By September, right?
Not this year.
I'm done expecting the worst. I'm done waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm done wallowing in misery.
This year is different. I refuse to let that dark grey cloud ruin my bright summer months for the umpteenth time in my life.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm crazy. You're thinking I'm a typical drunk Cubs fan who's just babbling on.
No, this time I'm serious. This time I have reason to believe.
Every team goes through slumps throughout the season, that's why you play 162 games. It allows even the best teams to struggle and come out on top. It's like a really good whiskey: distilled twice (sometimes three times, if you're lucky) to get the finest product.
But I digress. Why is this year different? That's the important question.
Well let me tell you: It just is.
I can't explain it other than I haven't seen a Cubs quite like this one. The team in 2003 was fun, but not good (definitely not championship good anyway). That team had Prior and Wood and let's be honest, not much else.
This team has Zambrano and Dempster... and now Harden. And Lilly. And every other week Marquis. That's pretty solid. Marquis should be at least a fourth starter for most teams.
Five years ago the Cubs had an average offense that drastically outdid itself most of the time. Moises Alou is not a premier hitter, no matter how much he pretended back then.
This team, on the other hand, has five premier hitters, and that's only because DeRosa is having a good year. And the bench? Oh, the bench. Ward and Fontenot? Yes please.
But that's not all. It's not just players. It's the coaches, too. Piniella has one of the best staffs in all of baseball, and they all believe in this team. That belief has carried over to the players themselves, and likewise, the fans.
The ORGANIZATION believes. 2003 was a heck of a party, and that's how everyone treated it. It was never about the World Series (although we pretended after we lost), it was always about the Cubbie Bear and Murphy's.
It started last year, you know. We didn't realize it but it did. The change happened when we started playing "Go Cubs Go" every chance we got. It happened when we watched the San Diego Padres beat the Brewers to clinch the Central Division.
Even then we didn't expect a championship, but we expected more than just a party. Did you notice that? When every hat in the bar got thrown when Lily threw his glove? You remember it now, don't you? We were upset. Not because it was another year to be added on the sign hanging over Sheffield.
No, we were upset because we expected to win that Series. We definitely didn't expect to get swept.
No one talked about The Curse last year, at least not in this area. No freak occurrence last year, just a bad series. We just didn't hit.
This year the expectations are higher, and they're not absurd. Top-to-bottom, this is by far the best team in the National League. You know it, I know it, and that kid in New York knows it.
That's why it's a slump. It happens. I expected it to happen, but you know what? When push comes to shove? Milwaukee and St. Louis still have to beat us.
I know they're only two games behind right now, but we still have 19 games against both of them. St. Louis hasn't even visited Wrigley this year yet, you know, where the Cubs are virtually unbeatable?
So relax Cubs Nation, times will change and so shall our fortunes.
Oh, and Kerry Wood's injury is just a blister, not a torn ligament.
That's it. I can already hear you feeling better.
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