Would You Rather be Right or Happy About the Cubs?

Would You Rather be Right or Happy About the Cubs?

Many of you, maybe all of you, are wondering what exactly I'm asking here.

If you're behind the current Cubs rebuild but just frustrated with the inconsistent play on the field, my question doesn't really apply to you. I mean, I'm just as likely as the next guy to fire off a sarcastic tweet about the team or one of its under-performing players.

For instance, when someone asked a question about why none of the Cubs' awful players can get 4 hits like Gordon Beckham did, I responded that they stop playing intra-squad games after Spring Training. I may have also fired off something lamenting the non-trade of Nate Schierholtz as well.

When Nate's name surfaced in trade rumors late last season, I recall there being a fairly significant amount of rabble from the peanut gallery. People were wondering how the Cubs could possibly move the man who had been their best hitter, a player who could be a cornerstone for this young team. Of course, these were the same folks who complained that the Cubs were trading "all of their good players."

Never mind that those "good" players were either at the end of their contracts or had been signed with the explicit purpose of being flipped for prospects at the deadline, or both. Never mind that the current regime has long viewed two or three birds in the bush (leagues) as worth more than one in the hand.

It's entirely likely that I'm doing little more than addressing the lowest common denominator here, pandering to the vocal minority. But at this point, I'm really unsure of where the majority of Cubs fans fall on the subject of the rebuild and I'm beginning to fear that the "Now, Now, Now" group is larger than some believe.

And it's that group I wish to address with the question above, which I'll elaborate on a bit here: When it comes to your thoughts on the Cubs and the current direction of the team, would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?

I suppose both could happen in the end though; Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer could be gone at the end of the season, along with Ricky Renteria, Darwin Barney, Ryan Kalish, Nate Schierholtz, and any other player not named Antony Rizzo or Starlin Castro. Though, to be fair, most of you in this group were calling for Castro's immediate demotion/trade to make way for Javier Baez to start the season.

By the way, how's AAA treating Javy right now? You really think he'd fare better against major leaguers at this point?

Perhaps Tom Ricketts will release all the money Gordon Wittenmyer claims he's been stealing from you and hoarding in his vault up on the top of the hill like Scrooge McDuck. The Cubs can then spend away like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, Southern California, America, who are seeing a a great return on the signings of CJ Wilson, Josh Hamilton, and Albert Pujols.

Perhaps you'd like to see your team act more like the LA Dodgers, Texas Rangers, or Toronto Blue Jays, none of whom currently sit higher than 3rd in their respective divisions. Of course, none of them are more than 2 games from 1st at press time, but I'm not going to let that get in the way of my little diatribical point.

The Cubs are a very bad baseball team; this is an incontrovertible fact. But I'm not really sure why anyone would have expected otherwise or why anyone would think that current performance dictates future results. However, expectations seem to have been different for all those who decry the Cubs' direction.

So I ask again: would you rather be happy or right? I get the feeling that the naysayers would prefer to be correct in their assumptions about "The Plan," that they're so dead-set in their criticism that to see team fail, thus proving them right, would bring more joy than to see this (admittedly painful) process work itself through.

Or, even worse, if Epstoyer's schemes pay off in a big way, there will be no joy for many of the residents of Mudville because the rabble-rabble crowd will simply say that it should have happened sooner.

Maybe I'm wrong and all the protesters will just lay down the picket signs and assimilate back into the rest of the crowd like so many 60's hippies into "normal" society. Or maybe they'll still keep a chip, albeit a much smaller one, on their respective shoulders, taking as comfort the fact that their righteous indignance spurred the team to action. For what it's worth, my money's on the latter.

A lot of this came out of someone saying on Twitter last night that they had heard from several Sox fans that they'd rather see the Cubs lose than the Sox win, which is just a sad indictment on those people's view of competition and what it means to be a fan.

This is a different set of circumstances, but I fear that it's not much different for those who hang on @GDubCub's every word, awaiting his next column with zealous anticipation. Say what you will about the crowd still drinking blue Kool-Aid, but I have to think it's going to work out better for them than the people moving to Gordotown and gulping down whatever noxious beverage he's been mixing up.

So at the risk of beating this dead horse a bit much, I'll ask again of those who think the Cubs are going about this the wrong way: would you rather be happy about the Cubs succeeding or happy about being right in your criticism of the team's current direction?

While I'm sure this comes off as a bit of a troll on a couple levels, that really is not my intent. Okay, well, maybe it's a little of my intent, but thank you for indulging me. But putting your bias aside, what will you do if the Cubs do indeed turn things around in, say, 2016?

Will you gladly line up for bleacher seats, elbowing fans out of your way for that prime front-row seat in left-center? Or will you maintain a sullen pessimism, like Randy Quaid in Major League II?

Or are you simply so confident in your belief that Tom Ricketts is a money-hungry miser who will never spend money that you feel the team will continue to sit in a quagmire of mediocrity until he is forced to either open the pocketbooks or sell the team to Mark Cuban or some such "good" owner?

Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman

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  • fb_avatar

    You're assuming that this is all going to work out in the end. The Cubs are certainly going to win, in your mind, so which of these two options will naysayers like me choose when (and it's only when) it happens?

    But perhaps they aren't going to win. How many seasons are you willing to write off until throwing in the towel on the "build from within" process that hasn't yet brought any success at all? And is putting a cap on the number of lost seasons at three really so unreasonable?

    Since I asked the question, I'll answer it myself. Writing off any season is a bad idea. The result is that lifelong fans go to their graves unfulfilled. If the Cubs want to win on some deferred time table where they get to determine when it's time to be successful, then it won't ever happen.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rob Harris:

    Sure, I come at it from that angle, but I'm neither happy nor right. I am simply asking what happens when, or perhaps if is a better term, they win. Seems to me that many are so tied up in being right, that if they're wrong and the team succeeds, they'll still be upset about it.

    Every Cubs fan who has been born and has died since 1908 has gone to their grave unfulfilled though. And any professional team has the discretion to choose when to go all-out in the pursuit of success; it's their money and livelihood. That's not fun for fans, but the team doesn't owe you or me or any bygone fans anything.

    In weighing the facts of the matter, I can see that they are building a solid foundation. If they're wrong and I'm wrong, then we can all sit in the ashes together, but nothing they've done in the past has worked either.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Evan Altman:

    Back in 2003, before the season started, I made the case on the Cubs' message board--since there was no social media back then--that the Cubs needed to make a play to sign Jim Thome to play first base. I was shouted down and told that Hee Seop Choi (remember him?) was the better option. Those fans thought that Thome would cost too much, and Choi had a huge upside that a naysayer like myself wouldn't recognize.

    Thome signed with the Phillies and had monster numbers in 2003. Choi was carted off the field in a game in June, and vanished not long after that. As interesting as the Eric Karros/Randall Simon pairing was at first base in 2003, nobody will ever be able to tell me that the team would not have been far better than it was if Jim Thome had been on the roster.

    My point is that younger, home-grown talent is always cheaper, but veteran talent is needed sometimes. And the costs of signing veteran talent is more than this ownership will bear. They're hoping the low-dollar value comes in, but they'll have to understand that not everyone is willing to wait along with them. And if that makes me less of a fan than someone whose patience is unending, so be it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rob Harris:

    You sound like quite a reasonable person, but I'm more concerned with those who scream to spend with no definitive way of how to do so. Or those who just think the Cubs should sign every free agent who comes on the market.

    I am not saying that they won't or shouldn't eventually spend money, but rather that the wealth of prospects coming up is greater than what we've seen in the past, which means that some guys can flame out without the impact of a Choi, Patterson, etc.

    Let's say Baez flops but Bryant solidifies himself at 3B. Soler fails but Almora works. Once a couple more positions solidify, the remaining prospects can be flipped for FAs still in their respective primes.

    I'm fully aware that it's going to take some money and maybe a mercenary or two to get this thing turned around, but I also believe that it can be done from the inside out. That should begin next year; if everyone flops and they still aren't spending money, I'll grab a pitchfork and picket sign and join right along with the rabble.

  • Maybe the relevant question is why their best situational hitter, Jeff Samardzija, admits that he is on the trading block.

    Regardless of whether Sox fans believe it is better if the Cubs lose, the only reason the Cubs did not lose 100 in 2013 was that they beat the Sox 4 straight. Won't happen this year.

    Another indication of the Cubs's psyche is that they are continuing the "100 years at Wrigley promotion," and commentators point out that the last set of throwbacks was to the Cubs folding to the Philadelphia Athletics in that WS. Are they going to have commemorative jerseys for the 2003 NCLS?

    Finally, are the Cubs' fans taking solace that the Cardinals stink so far this year, or the warning that the Brewers are going to stomp them, even if Braun is clean?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    I don't take solace in another team's struggles, unless it directly benefits my own. In the same manner, I don't take solace in a .500 record or finishing ahead of 1 or 2 teams in the division or league. Unless you make the playoffs, the season is really a disappointment, and MLB draft spots can't be traded and aren't determined by ping pong balls.

    Losing sucks, but when pool money and better draft picks come as a result, it takes a little of the sting out of it. Of course I'd rather see a great team out there, but I've seen the after-effects of a big-money team that came apart at the seams.

    Those good Cubs teams had high-priced talent with little development of prospects. Now they're (fingers crossed) doing the opposite, which should net a foundation for more sustained success.

    Took that all right out of the handbook for the most part, but I paraphrased some of the more blatant Theo-isms out.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well if they were going to do the commemorative jerseys for 2003 it would have been last year on the 10 year anniversary. Kind of like how the Sox commemorated 1983 last year. Every Sunday.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Nope, apparently each home weekend, they are doing a different decade commemorative jersey, like last week from 1924-1933, hence the vs. Philly Athletics one. So, for being the raving Cub fan, I guess you don't actually watch the Cubs. A mlb.com reference if you didn't see the game but needed some verification.

    The 100th Anniversary should have been only one day. Otherwise, it just brings up the 105 years of futility. I guess Ruth pointing out his shot will be the theme on the next home weekend.

    Finally, I thought you said that the Cubs had nothing to do with the Sox. Well, they didn't yesterday except lose 8-3. They wouldn't have even had 2 of the 3 if not for Sox errors, even if they were not scored as such. But maybe Olt has potential as a DH.

  • In reply to jack:

    I thought you were done with me?

  • In reply to jack:

    Again, the White Sox spent a whole year commemorating 1983, a failed playoff run. Every home Sunday they wore those jerseys and now use them as an alternate.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Didn't someone named mikethorns say that this wasn't a White Sox blog? So what point do you have that is relevant to what the Cubs are doing this year. Or does your sock puppet have a split personality?

    I'm done with you with your insanity that the Cubs had the money to sign Cano and a dozen other people, but why would one? But if you want to take on more subjects, don't feel immune whatever screen name you use.

  • In reply to jack:

    It's called Cubs Insider, so I'd say it's a Cubs blog. I never said the Cubs had money to sign Cano, because that was an insane deal that no one should ever give any player. But they had enough money to throw at Anibal Sanchez, and they offered as much as the White Sox did for Tanaka, and they probably could have gotten Abreu if they had need for a 1B.

    I still fail to see what your point in posting around here is. Are you trying to prove that the White Sox have done a better job rebuilding? Because until they win a World Series during this rebuild there's no argument to be made. Even if they finish with a better record than the Cubs, which most of the league probably will, it doesn't really prove anything if they are still sitting at home in October.

    How's Adam Dunn doing for you guys? How's Matt Davidson? How's Avisail Garcia?

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Why do you continuously project onto others, and then expect them to answer your irrelevant questions?

    Why don't you answer this extremely simple question, which I previously posed:

    What does the Sox throwback uniform policy have to do with what the Cubs are doing this year?


  • In reply to jack:

    Because the Sox did the exact same thing last year. They spent an entire season honoring the 1983 season, which ended with them being knocked out of the playoffs. So what you are bashing the Cubs for doing, the Sox did the same thing last year. My question is why do you care about anything the Cubs are doing at all? Other than reinforcing stereotypes about Cubs-obsessed Sox fans? If that's your goal, mission accomplished.

  • In reply to jack:

    Doesn't answer the question. Go back and read the bold and try again.

  • In reply to jack:

    You're the one who is bringing up the Cubs throwbacks and honoring Wrigley this year. First of all I fail to see how that matters to a Sox fan, unless they are one obsessed with the Cubs. Second, it's something the Sox spent an entire season doing last year. Not sure if you are familiar with the term "pot calling the kettle black" but your protestations and mocking of the Cubs honoring a 100 year old stadium seem hollow and misplaced coming from the fan of a team that spent an entire season honoring a team that didn't win the World Series in 1983. And I'm pretty sure they also spent some time honoring their failed 1959 World Series appearance in 2009.

  • In reply to jack:

    You still have not answered the question, self professed Internet cop.

    Go back and read it.

    Or are you saying that Laura Ricketts got together with the marketing staff and said "let's just do something dumb that the Sox did just so some sock puppet foamer on a Cubs blog can say that we did that?"

    Try again..................

  • Boston didn't win the WS with all home grown products, and the last time I checked SD hasn't won a WS at all. Good Pitching, Timely Hitting, plus strong defense wins games. While the pitching hasn't been horrible, the "timely" hitting is non-existent! The Cubs don't have a RBI guy playing! Those who say Rizzo, check how many ducks he's left on the pond when he had a loaded gun in his hand (St. Louis series). I've experienced the fall of 69 & was there for the Marlins win. A couple of RBI studs would at least make it interesting every game and I bet the starting pitchers would love it too!!

  • In reply to spanky 310:

    RBI guy? You're joking right?

  • In reply to spanky 310:

    And no, Bostons team wasn't made up entirely of homegrown talent, but take a look at their roster and youll see a good portion of it was. They then filled any holes in their roster with FAs without tying themselves up long term. No coincidence one of the other most successful teams of this era, the Cardinals, subscribe to the same beliefs. But hey, keep believing that all it takes is some "RBI guys", whatever that means.

  • In reply to jsel91:

    That's what irritates me so much about the naysayers. Just look at the history over the last decade, titles were won through a combination of homegrown talent and free agents. But who were those free agents? For the Red Sox it was Ortiz, for the White Sox it was Podsednik. Two guys basically left for dead in the league who were picked up and immediately contributed. It's not always about big free agents, it's about the right free agents. The 2007 Red Sox got to where they are by trading home grown talent for established players. The Giants pitching was home grown.

    Or you could just pay Robinson Cano a billion dollars like some f'ing moron.

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    Or pay EJax $52 million. May be able to pitch 1/4 of the time and bunt .000 of the time. When is Ryan Sweeney going to be lightning in a bottle? Hell, he was expendable for the expendable Brian Anderson.

    I guess, though, that you are saving your #1 Fukadome and #1 Juan Pierre jerseys. They are equally good or bad on both sides of town.

  • I suspect that with the Cubs suffering for such...a...long...time... that if and when they win, there will be so much unbridled joy that the naysayers will at least temporarily forget what they were saying nay about.

    On the flip side, I think what's often part of being a fan (and why this is, I'm not sure) is the enjoyment of playing the armchair GM. For whatever reason we like deciding on our own "this is a good idea, that's a bad idea". This is natural, no matter how good or bad a team is. If the Cubs do win the whole thing, I think this will likely increase. Look at the Blackhawks and Bulls right now. A lot of their fans are looking toward the next season even before the current season has finished. (Maybe less so with the Blackhawks during the playoffs, but certainly during the end of the regular season.)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Well said, Matt. Even a successful team has plenty of people upset about the moves the team makes. And when you pay money and watch the team on a daily basis, you feel a connection and, in some cases, a sense of entitlement to have your team somehow repay you for your patronage.

    I get that, it's pretty natural. And yes, if/when this team wins, the absolute mania that ensues will basically engulf everything in its path.

  • I would rather be happy, because my visions of the future based on my observations are not that bright.

    I am entirely onboard with the notion of building from scratch. I realize everyone feels that Baez had a legendary season last year, but I wonder how many forgot that he had four bad weeks followed by ten bonkers weeks. I would like to see more consistency, which he is not displaying yet in his career. I am pessimistic about Soler, considering where Cespedes, Puig, and Abreu are right now. I keep hearing about Almora's makeup but then I see that it took him over a month to draw a walk.

    And I haven't mentioned pitching, and I never will, because I freely admit that is one thing I have never understood. I just know what bad pitchers look like, and everyone we have brought up in the past three years are bad.

    So yeah, I'd rather be wrong...and happy.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Rob Letterly:

    Chris Rusin just threw no-no for Iowa, so there's that.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    The guy over on Cubs Den had somewhat of an answer to your point about Baez, which is that basically he has ended every season on a new level and kind of struggled, then started the season going bonkers. In the case of 2012 he started in Peoria and ended in Daytona where he struggled, then came back in 2013 and struggled for little while, then went bonkers and got promoted to Tennessee where he continued going bonkers. This year he started at a new level so he has struggled more than in previous years.

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