The season is half over and the Cubs are looking good. Not as great as early on when they were sizzling and surreal, but still good enough, though currently tired and questionable, to go all the way…if the baseball gods be kind.
What has been happening these days on the northside of Chicago is almost beyond believing. The Big Blue W has gotten wind-worn, it has been flying so much. And the Cubbies’ team flag is still topping all others in their division. The guys early on were playing the kind of ball worthy of Cooperstown bronze. Not true of late, however. Still, the season is hanging on to its magic.
Maybe it’s the water…or the beer, both pricey in the ballpark, that has them playing high-end ball, or Mr. Maddon who certainly knows the game and how to make and manage a team. Whatever is working, every true Cub fan realizes there is half a season to go and anything can happen. Meantime, (Need it be said?) fans should “Enjoy.” But what does that mean for true Cub fans looking ahead?
Wisdom from the past is also flying its flag, a cautionary one. Sales of bubble wrap for breakable hearts are picking up in Wrigleyville. Although management is looking to Ghostbusters, Inc., to banish any hint of billygoats, black cats, Buckners and Bartmans, Cub fan stalwarts are folding their hands with crossed fingers, hoping as well to ward off any hint of disaster. Cynical columnists and southsiders may be dismissed with a sneer, but they, too, provide a reality check that warrants acknowledgement.
The team’s late June swoon and early July jangling and jitters have the front office looking for answers. Pitching has gone south and the bullpen keeps giving away wins. Hitting hasn’t come through in crucial at-bats and runners are dying on base. The euphoria of April and May has faded. But maybe the All Star break will help.
Halfway there the Cubs still own first place in their division. But the question remains: Halfway to where? Cub fans are weary of “Same old, same old” and of thinking, “Been there; done that.” Ownership has given them the players – and a manager – who can go all the way this year. The reality of recent setbacks needs to be a kick in the…shins to get the team back to their early season magic… and fun.
If the second half can mirror the beginnings of the first half, the Cubbies will certainly make the Playoffs. It’s the second season that can get them to the World Series. That’s where.