This is Chicago baseball.
The team collapses once every two or three years. Well, that's not true. It feels to Cub fans as if the team collapses every year - if we're lucky, not until October. But on occasion - in 2000, then again in 2006, then in 2009, and once more in 2011 things fall apart so severely that the only appropriate response is a great purge.
The Reset Button in the North Side is about to be slapped, and the stars are once again aligned so that what comes next will either be a tremendous change of the organization's fate and fortune or, well, it'll be another misalignment that'll leave insightful fans with the bitter suspicion that another chance has been wasted and several more years must be misspent before things can Reset once more.
Consider where we stand at the present: for the first time in about 80 years, the Cubs are theoretically owned by somebody dedicated toward one goal: a World Series victory. I say "theoretically" because so far the Ricketts family has been slow acting in righting past wrongs.
For the first time since Dallas Green smoked stogies from the front office, the Cubs are absent of a General Manager of questionable competence. I mean, Jesus, how many draft and free agency busts was Jim Hendry going to have to subject us to before somebody finally fired his ass?
For the first time perhaps ever, a championship caliber GM with a track record of success might be available to be hired. And so is his manager. Perhaps the odds are slim, that Theo Epstein would bolt from Boston to Chicago (from one cursed franchise to another), and perhaps they are even slimmer that he'd rehire Terry Francona just a short time after he let him go. But... what if?
Meanwhile, the Cubs are about to be freed of Aramis Ramirez and are working toward clearing the contracts of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano off their ledgers. Perhaps Cub fans are confident that some of what I just wrote is better than the rest. Nobody will protest too loudly if Soriano is let go, even if Chicago has to choke on most of his ridiculous contract. Some might grumble a bit if the Cubs indeed unload Zambrano, who still theoretically has years of rage-filled pitching outings ahead of him. Many might complain loudly if Ramirez is let go, on account of his having filled what once was a gaping hole in the infield.
I submit to you that an "out with the old" mentality might have benefits. Do you really want a 35-year-old third baseman who's basically exiting with the hopes of landing one last payday? Do the Cubs really need an overpaid, overrated starter whose antics overshadow his talent? (I never thought I'd say that last bit - I used to shoot laserbeams at folks who criticized The Big Moose.)
In any case, most of us are probably going to agree that 2012 is a lost cause. The Cubs have been noted for their quick turn-arounds, but Jim Hendry basically left the Cubs tied to the metaphorical bedpost with their pants around their ankles. It's going to take a bit of time to get out of the mess he left them in. But what remains in play is every year after.
That's why this off season is so important. The Cubs must find the right GM, who needs to find the right manager. The wrong guy in either position means the Cubs are going to waste the next 5 years. But even beyond the right GM, the Cubs need to seriously consider a total front office purge. If it is true that Chicago's "losing mentality" exists, then it is more in the front office than on the field. This team needs to change how it operates. If they do that, then the rest will follow.