Funny thing about reality and public perception, they’re not always in sync. So when the cognitive dissonance between the former and latter actually finds harmony, it can be a little jarring. And while the “Cubs chaos continues” headline in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is no doubt self-aware pandering to its audience, you know darn well a few Cubs fans are reeling from all the news that’s come out since the start of October.
Though it can’t match the “Wrigley Stadium” debacle for pure nails-on-a-chalkboard discomfort, writer Jeff Gordon nonetheless touched a nerve by listing out all the upheaval at 1060 West Addison. But are things really that bad? I mean, sure, it’s less than ideal to be replacing both pitching and hitting coached for the second winter in a row. And having a lame-duck manager who’s averaged 97 wins a season makes for interesting optics.
Then there’s the whole thing about how the Cubs aren’t willing or “able” to pursue a big-money free agent this winter, which underscores the whole deal. Theo Epstein has been vocal about the need for greater urgency and his belief that the players on the 2018 roster are capable of winning in 2019 without major changes. But is that because they’re really going to have to operate that way and he’s simply ratcheting down expectations?
Maybe. Or maybe even probably. Is that really chaos, though? Are they holding regular fire drills in that new office building in order to more efficiently cut staff members loose? Speaking of, we haven’t even mentioned the departure of one of Epstein’s lieutenants back in October. While it may have seemed like a blow to the Cubs’ efforts at the time, perhaps that individual was not quite as instrumental to the team’s success as what had been thought by some on the outside.
The real issue with the perception of the Cubs seems to be that they’re the prim-and-proper family at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac, with a very, very, very fine house and two cats in the yard. Not that many of us in the blogosphere and even those from credentialed publications haven’t had a hand in crafting that image. It’s just that people seem to think the Cubs have presented themselves as this idyllic baseball paradise.
When you get down to it, though, these are all still human beings we’re talking about and they’re going to have personality conflicts. They’re going to make bad decisions and they’re going to fail. They might even *gasp* say the wrong thing at times. But when you do such a good job of limiting the conflicts and mistakes over time, such occurrences can seem magnified.
And we can’t dismiss out of hand the possibility that those miscues could all compound and feed on one another in a chain reaction of suck that ruins the whole works. I don’t foresee that happening, at least not this season, but it’s something the Cubs must be aware of in order to avoid real chaos.
This team was never perfect, or even close to it. Nor has it suddenly become the cesspool of uncertainty it’s been portrayed as in some circles. It just is, and we won’t know until well into next season exactly what it is. Wow, that was illuminating, huh?