Wow, where do I start? I mean, any fan wants to see their team playing baseball in October, but absent a total protonic reversal, I don’t think the Cubs faithful have that to look forward to.
And just in case you’re not familiar with the concept of TPR, it’s a theory developed by paranormal experts Dr. Egon Spengler and Dr. Ray Stantz. It holds that beams from a positron collider, when crossed, would force all life as we know it to stop instantaneously and every molecule to explode at the speed of light.
Okay, so now that all the highbrow science mumbo-jumbo is out of the way, let’s get down to baseball. More specifically, the brand that will be played at 1060 W. Addison St. this season.
The hope of a better tomorrow has been dangled in front of us for years, but it got pulled away completely at some point (link to stop being fun), leaving us to wander in the proverbial desert without so much as a compass or a map.
And unlike years past, there hasn’t even been an occasional oasis – hell, not even a mirage – where we might rest our weary souls. But with all the talk of rebuilding, with images of Spring Training being beamed across the interwebs, comes a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
I want nothing more than for the Cubs to succeed. And as much as I’d prefer that it had happened yesterday, I’m willing to wait for tomorrow. But I’m going to need to see a few things today, some touchstones, that make me understand why I’m still here.
The Kids are Alright
We can hear all about Baez, Bryant, Soler, Almora, Edwards, and the rest of the never-ending list of prospects in the farm system. But until they’re wearing one of the never-ending list of throwback jerseys at Wrigley, it really doesn’t matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of building a strong farm system. But it means nothing if the crops it produces aren't harvested. For even 2 or 3 of the young guys to make the Bigs would be exciting, for the team and fans alike.
And for more than one of them to succeed? Take about renewing some hope for the future. If youth is served at Wrigley this year, the crowds will lap it up with more gusto than the reduced quantities of Old Style.
The Jumbotron Goes up
Listen, I’ve been outspoken in favor of the addition of a video board since before its erection was even a topic of discussion. I’m a fan of replays and I like seeing real-time stats on a screen that’s not covered in bird poop.
Yeah, yeah, Wrigley won’t be the same. I get it. I love Wrigley Field; it’s my favorite place on Earth. But I’d give up all of its charm and nostalgia in a heartbeat for a Cubs World Series.
And getting that video board up means that the Cubs’ business side is finally making significant progress, which will in turn boost the baseball side. I know many people would prefer a unchanged Wrigley with a mediocre team, but I can’t go for that, sorry.
Cubs Network (or just a new TV deal in general) is Created
While we’re dumping traditions like a lack of modern technology and decades-long beer sponsorships, we might as well talk about broadcasting the games on a different channel. So WGN-TV may well end up on the outside looking in where the Cubs are concerned.
I’ll feel bad about that for about 32 seconds…until I see that the Cubs are getting a huge windfall as the result of a new TV deal. And yes, I’m aware that Ricketts will be lining his pockets as well. But hey, that’s his prerogative as the owner.
Like the previous point, this would be a giant step forward for the Cubs’ business operations and would signal a turning point for the team.
Player Development Improves
2013 was frustrating for many reasons, not the least of which was the regression of talented players like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. And, despite being blindsided by his firing, lack of player development was a huge factor in Dale Sveum being let go.
I want to see how Rick Renteria handles the guys we already know and those we’re learning more about each day. As AJ Walsh noted briefly in an earlier post, improvements by just a couple players could have a noticeable impact.
I’m not going to put a win total up as a benchmark, as I don’t believe it’s really that important. For the fans, maybe, but not for the team itself. I don’t see this as an incrementally-improving team, but rather, as one that will jump from 60 to 90 wins in one season.
It just won’t be this season. That doesn’t mean wait ‘til next year though; it just means that we’re going to have to look to something outside of just wins and losses to judge progress.
Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman
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