A Chicago Story: The 2008 Cubs and Bears Both Let Fans Down in the End
We saw it in October, then again at the end of December. You know what I am talking about. Games our two favorite teams should win. We feel in our heart, this could be the time. Then, they made us look like idiots once again.
The Cubs, 97 wins and best record in the National League. The Bears, eight wins with a chance to go to the playoffs. The records don't tell the entire story though.
Alfonso Soriano missed 50 games for the Cubs. In those games, the Cubs went 26-24, two games over .500. In the 112 games that he played in, the Cubs were 71 and 41. Having him in the lineup was a difference of .114 in win percentage.
Going into October, the Cubs' offense looked poised for a strong showing and a deep playoff run.
Kyle Orton then got hurt, which sent the offense into turmoil over the next couple weeks. He never looked healthy again in 2008.
To go along with that, every team they needed to have lose in Week 16, lost. The Cowboys were upended by the Ravens, the Buccaneers lost to the Chargers, and the Eagles lost to the Redskins. This kept the Bears' slim chances at a Wild Card berth alive.
Then Week 17 came along. The Bears were playing against a good, young Texans team. A game that would be tough, but the Bears should undoubtedly win, considering all that is at stake.
As the game progressed, we saw that the Vikings were in a close one with the Giants. To go along with that, the Raiders were hanging in against the Buccaneers. A Buccaneers loss would open up more possibilities for the Bears.
The Bears couldn't take care of business. Meaning no combination wins and losses would allow them a new season. Instead, they would have to go home and watch the Eagles.
I say watch the Eagles, because they were the only team that had less of a chance of making the playoffs. Yet, they went in, against the Cowboys, and took care of business. Well, actually they looked to take out the NFL's trash, 44-6.
So, here we are. Chicago fans still, but left with a sting. How could this happen yet again.
The Cubs, two years running, get swept in the playoffs.
The Bears, two years running, miss the playoffs after their 2006 Super Bowl run.
I have a question to ask. Chicago fans, why do we do it? Year after year, we go with the ups and downs.
No wonder I have high blood pressure.
Seriously though, what compels us to put ourselves through such torment?
If you are a Cubs fan, there is not another fan in baseball that can't rag on the Cubs. 101 years and no World Series win. Hell, they haven't even played in the World Series since 1945; neither of my parents were even thought of yet.
Still, we sit here and we ponder offseason moves and argue about how this man or this one fits the team better.
Well, when we are talking about the Cubs, maybe we should just be happy. I mean, until 2007 and 2008, though getting swept, the franchise had not made the playoffs in back-to-back years.
Or when it comes to the Bears, maybe we should be happy that we looked better than just one year before. I myself am happy that it looks to be the end of Rex Grossman in Chicago.
I know as a Bears fan you have heard plenty of things about the quarterback. The one I love is when another team's quarterback (New York Jets - Brett Favre's last five games) is playing terrible and someone compares them to Rex Grossman.
Yet we do not break. Hell, as Chicago fans, we rarely ever bend.
Something new that I have noticed is that we are a lot less forgiving now than we have been in the past.
I myself called for Lovie's head after the Bears failed to make the playoffs two years in a row.
Many other people have been very skeptical about the job the Chicago Cubs Jim Hendry has done this offseason.
If you don't like it, go be a Yankees bandwagoner. That's what I say.
See, the Cubs have done more this offseason than any team outside of New York. Ryan Dempster is the only player to sign for a contract over $40mil that didn't sign with either the Yankees or Mets.
Yes, the Cubs have seen the departure of Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa, but both are replaced with young players that could be even better than they were.
To clarify, the young players I was talking about were Carlos Marmol and Mike Fontenot. The production doesn't look to go down and could even go up in 2009. The Cubs got three prospects out of a guy that will likely regress and fill his spot with what could be a younger upgrade.
Mike Fontenot had 22 doubles, one triple, and nine home runs in 243 at-bats in 2008. Mark DeRosa had 30 doubles, three triples, and 21 home runs, but he had 505 at-bats. If you give Fontenot Derosa's 505 at-bats, his projected stats look something like this: 46 doubles, two triples, and 19 home runs.
This is production the Cubs need from the left side of the plate. Coupled with Milton Bradley, who many think will sign with the Cubs, their left-handed production could easily be doubled.
One thing many people don't realize is that this is a slow offseason for all MLB teams, once again, outside of New York.
When it comes to the Bears, we have a while to see what Jerry Angelo works up. I hope it is at least a new defensive coordinator. I also hope there is a new, never played in Chicago, quarterback signing.
I would also like to add a secondary and a No. 1 receiver to the wish list. Brian Urlacher should be moved to the outside at least, for he is no longer strong enough to be in the middle.
So, as the Cubs and Bears both disappointed me in 2008, I can't hate. The regular seasons were both filled with great times and some sad. For the most part, the ups were greater than the downs, until the very end.
Why am I a Cubs and Bears fan? I don't know better. Like most of you, I became a Chicago fan before I know what 1908 meant. I didn't know who was a good quarterback and Lovie hadn't helped develop the vaunted defenses in Tampa Bay.
Instead, I grew up learning that it will not always be easy being a Chi-Town fan. Hell, it is never easy being a Chi-Town fan.
Chicago fans know how to appreciate their teams. We live and die with these teams. When we get our next Super Bowl or World Series titles, the feeling will be insurmountable. On that day, nobody on this world can touch us.
Every baseball fan will be scared to go outside. They know, that every single Chicago Cubs fan will remind them who the champions are and who said "it will never happen."
Most importantly, I have too much character, which is what it takes to be a Cubs fan.
This is not the case when it comes to being, let's say, a Yankee fan.
We all know, it doesn't take character to be a Yankee fan.
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