The latter part of last week was supposed to be a great time for me. I was headed back from a business trip in Florida and was going to spend the next three days shuttling my two kids (Addison, 7, and Ryne, 5) between my sister's house in Columbus, IN and Indiana University in Bloomington, where the kids were participating in Tom Crean's Little Hoosiers camp.
But as I sat in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale waiting for them to call for boarding, I saw an ominous post at the top of my Facebook feed. It announced the unexpected passing of a man who had been a mentor to me, along with hundreds, probably thousands, of others over the years.
So now the rest of my week was consumed by conflicting emotional fronts, one buoyed by my joy at seeing my children running around with the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall, and the other weighed down with grief and loss. I eventually found myself realizing that my life was far better for having known this man in the first place, but that didn't prevent the week from being an incredibly draining one.
So what does that have to do with the headline? Well, in and of itself, nothing. But I think the concept of different emotions really building to a head is something that we're going to see very soon when it comes to the Cubs fanbase. I think we're all aware of the different views of the rebuilding process, but the sides have been able to co-exist somewhat innocuously for the past few years.
But with the tidal wave of high-performing prospects, not to mention the incredible play of Anthony Rizzo, inspiring audacious hope on one end and the inevitable dive into a high-draft-pick pool by the major league team sparking skepticism on the other, I think we're looking at an ideological storm of epic proportions.
Where's Bill Paxton when you need him, huh?
While it might not be as scientifically accurate as the tools used by Tom Skilling and those of his ilk, I utilize Twitter as a barometer for the feelings of fans on both sides of the argument and I get the sense that things are building toward a civil war of sorts between the two factions of this Theocracy. As Exhibit A, I present the epic thread from Sahadev Sharma's (@sahadevsharma) timeline from Sunday night.
For a long time, the banter was more of a playful, you-suck-no-you-suck variety, but it seems more and more that there's some real vitriol behind the words, that 140-characters-or-less mortars are now being launched from fixed positions and that trenches are being dug. And I'm not the only one sensing it; Rice Cube from World Series Dreaming just wrote about the growing divide among fans too.
Both sides know they're right and are clinging so steadfastly to their respective narrative that nothing short of its destruction will be able to change their view. And with that in mind, as odd as it may sound, it's that annihilation that I'm most anticipating, even if it means that the particular narrative flag I'm flying is the one lying on the ground in tatters.
I'm interested to see what the anti-rebuild faction says if they end up being wrong. Will they be contrite, admitting the fault in their beliefs? Or will they shake their fists defiantly, claiming that it all could have been done sooner? My money's on the latter, but if winning really does cure all ills, then I have a sneaking suspicion that anger will melt quickly.
Either way, I'm sure there will be more than a few toldya-so's thrown around, laced with varying degrees of righteous indignance. And it'll be interesting to see what sort of editorial decisions are made when certain narratives go from mildly nauseating in their suppositions to blatantly incorrect and spiteful.
But what if the detractors of The Plan stand in triumph over the In Theo We Trust crowd? Will they be gracious victors, reaching out their collective hand in an effort of reconciliation or reconstruction? Or will they form that hand into an iron fist, swinging on all those who attempted to call them out?
Again, I'm going with the second option and it's really a no-brainer. If this thing doesn't work out, the Cubs are going to be in a truly awful place, like a partially-developed nation in the wake of a deposed dictator...or Detroit. And I don't think that's going to be very fun for anyone; even the people who "won" won't be happy.
So I really want this rebuild to work, and work well. Not because I want to be right (which I think I will be, and which I will certainly enjoy), but because the alternative is too bleak to even contemplate. And I guess that's where I take issue with those whose view can't seem to encompass even the possibility that this thing will work out.
I can't understand the idea of maintaining a willful ignorance to the facts being presented. But again, I'm biased. And I believe these arguments are going to get much worse before they get better, that we're headed toward a pretty divisive period in Cubs fandom, one that might last as few as 6 months and as many as 18.
Then again, this could all be a moot point if Kris Bryant and Javier Baez come up and have an immediate impact, satisfying fans on both sides of the divide. But until that happens, the middle ground is going to look increasingly like a demilitarized zone, as more and more people grow too myopic to clearly see past their own noses.
I'm interested to hear what you think though. Do you see the same active fault lines among fans or am I making something up out of nothing? I'd particularly like to hear from someone on the anti-rebuild side, specifically why you have taken that position and what you'll do or say if the whole thing works out according to plan. The comments section is there for a reason, folks.
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