Granted, I’m not a doctor, but I know what I know. And, more importantly, I know what I feel. And what I’m feeling right now from your entire team is that you’re exhausted. And I don’t mean physically or mentally. I mean emotionally.
Now, granted, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to know why you would be. After all, you had to somehow win the World Series by overcoming more pressure than I believe any sports team ever faced before.
Like it having been 108 years since the last series win. Like an entire city, scratch that, much of the country, if not the entire universe, weighing down upon you with its wringing hands. Like being discussed and dissected on every sports talk radio show. And, of course, there were all those past, passed generations who never saw you win it all, quiet ghosts watching from the bleachers.
Like the playoffs being packed with so many sufferings and salvations, leading up to Jason Heyward’s Braveheart-like speech after the mystical rain delay to end all rain delays. Even that last slipping, sliding out had us holding our breath and clenching our hands, fingernails punching half-moon indentations into our palms.
Like your working every day last season to hold back the all-too-real and all-too-often Cubbie oddness that led past teams to do and say crazy things (think Lee Durham and Lee Elia), and sometimes flee or freeze (think Dusty Baker in the dugout during the 2003 implosion, coat collar pulled up, hat brim pulled down).
A Cubbie oddness that almost bit your manager and team in the series, too. Like when, all of a sudden, as the pressure appeared to finally exceed the pleasure, he started making inexplicable moves with his closer, treating him like an everyday player.
And then, there were the after-series celebrations and activities. The Saturday Night Live skit, the talk shows, Dancing with the Stars, the parade, the banner raisings, and the seemingly unending other festivities to commemorate your win. Now, of course, it’s a good thing to enjoy being champions. But it seemed like even the celebrating was wearing you down… actually all of us, like we’d woken up in Vegas, trying to figure out why there was a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet.
Of course, I said all that to say that I get it. I understand why you’re exhausted. You carried all of us on your shoulders last year. And you did what no Chicago Cubs team had done for a long, long time. You made me happy after the last out. And for that, I thank you.
Of course, notice that I said I was happy after that last out. That’s because, for the entire playoff run, I was stressed quite literally out of my mind. And it got worse as the playoffs continued. When you won a game, I felt momentary relief. But, by the next morning, the pressure would start building again. Then, as soon as you lost a game, I’d plummet. My own private Cubbiecoaster. It became so bad that it actually became painful to watch the final games, as the stress built. To the point where, after you did win the whole thing, my body literally took a couple of weeks to recover. I know that sounds crazy, but waiting for next year for so long had taken its toll.
So, to me, it makes perfect sense that you’re struggling as a team this year. After all, if I was emotionally exhausted watching you play, what must it have been like for all of you who actually played.
So, yes, my diagnosis is that you’re all bone tired, emotionally spent, straight through, though you are definitely showing signs of life since the All Star break.
But I have a prescription for you, to ease your pain.
First, go rent a theater, or buy one. After all, you are the Chicago Cubs. Make it one of those with nice reclining chairs and multiple cupholders.
Then, sit back with your popcorn and M&Ms and watch a movie.
One movie that will remind you of the joy of what you do, of the game you play. Because, for the first half of the season, you definitely looked like you were playing without that same joy, that same fun, from last year. Heck, even the mimes were left with nothing to say.
Now, of course, I have one particular movie in mind.
It’s about a farmer who hears a voice in his cornfield.
Just watch out for that last scene. A scene that will remind you of one very important truth.
That there most definitely is crying in baseball.
Go get em’, boys.
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