wrigley party balloons celebrationI hope you’ve got some fun plans for the evening as you close down 2014 and head into 2015. The Taylor Household will be host to other families with small kids, which is appropriate and emblematic of much of the year for us. It’s amazing how quickly you start marking the time by the things occurring in the lives of your children.

I’m lucky, though, to have another convenient way to mark my time: the year in the Cubs and at BN.

It’s probably at least partially my brain creating convenient narratives, but, is it just me, or did the Cubs’ year start at a low and then just keep rising throughout 2014?

In January, we had the Masahiro Tanaka disappointment and rooftop fight coming to a head (on the same day, no less). All things Wrigley Renovation were frustrating for the first half of the year. The best stories in Spring Training – Mike Olt and Ryan Kalish – wound up struggling and eventually sent to the minors. The Cubs didn’t look like a competitive team heading into the year, and no one was expecting anything but a mid-season sell-off.



The 100th Anniversary Game at Wrigley was a lot of fun until an almost unbelievable 9th inning implosion. And every day it seemed like the Cubs were getting picked apart for some stupid off-the-field thing.

The Cubs struggled so mightily in the early going (highlighted by Jose Veras’s disastrous stint with the Cubs – did you forget about that?). Those pre-seasons fears of a non-competitive team? Confirmed.

Then … fireworks.

By which I mean the fireworks I was watching from my driveway at 10pm on the Fourth of July while I frantically tracked and typed up the then-breaking Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel trade. The Cubs netted a heck of a nice return there, and never really looked back.

Not only did the draft go well, but top pick Kyle Schwarber exploded onto the scene in the second half, justifying the Cubs’ selection and then some. Other prospects had great second halves, in particular. Too many to go over. Kris Bryant won every award ever. It was just a great year for Cubs prospects. (#Sparkle #BaezAfterDark #Dangerous)



The Cubs decided to move ahead with the renovation, and eventually got the approvals necessary to start work.

Young talent started popping up on the big league team, and watching their emergence was a hell of a lot of fun (COOKIES!). And the still young players that preceded them – Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro – were having great years.

Jake Arrieta was a treat to watch every time he took the mound (except that one start against the Rockies, but whatever – Coors Field, man).

How much fun was watching the Cubs in August and September? When was the last time you could ask that with a straight face?

And then the Cubs got Joe Maddon.

And then the Cubs got Jason Hammel back. And Miguel Montero. The hype was building.

And then the Cubs got Jon Lester.

As we sit here today, the final day of 2014, the Cubs look like an honest-to-God contender in 2015. No, they’re not a lock to push for a playoff spot next year, and the best days are still probably a couple years in the future. But today sure looks a lot better for the Cubs than December 31, 2013 did.



The promise of 2015 is hope that skews just a little more realistic than it has in recent years. I’m ready to turn the calendar and start living in it.

***

It was a quite a year at BN, too. When I think back on the year, it is, for me, compartmentalized into four chunks: the big financial piece (which took every free minute I had for most of January, February, and March, but it was totally worth it), redesigning the site (hello April and May, farewell message board and BN Podcast), the heat of the season (the draft, trade season (the highlight of which was you all donating more than $16,000 to Make-A-Wish), and a surprisingly exciting tail end of the season), and then the insanity that started with Joe Maddon opting out of his contract in mid-October and didn’t cease until about three days ago.

It was a good year. A long year.

After taking a moment to breathe, I’ll let myself look ahead to 2015, and wonder openly how it is that I will write about a Chicago Cubs team that is expected to be competitive. I’ve become accustomed to the rhythms of the past few years, and I’m not really sure what a year at BN looks like, in terms of coverage, when the Cubs aren’t rebuilding. But, hey. Change is good. And this change is exceptionally good.

A few META tidbits:

  • The site was home to about 2850 posts this year, which is just shy of 8 posts per day. That’s the average, including weekends and holidays, and is a pretty significant bump from last year. I knew there were a lot of posts this year, but whoa. I had no idea. Hope you’ve enjoyed ’em.
  • The busiest day of the year was … nope, it wasn’t the Trade Deadline, believe it or not. The Tuesday of the Winter Meetings (Lester was making his decision that day, if you’ll recall) just barely edged it out. Other peak days for the year include the first day of the draft, the Tanaka/Rooftops day, the day of The Big Financial Piece, the Samardzija/Hammel trade day (despite it being the 4th of July, and despite it not happening until that night), Joe Maddon day, the day Russell Martin made his decision and the Cardinals traded for Jason Heyward (which was also the Monday after the Tommy La Stella trade), and the day the Cubs claimed Jacob Turner off of waivers (which, bizarrely, was busier here than the day the Cubs claimed Cole Hamels off of waivers – the very next day (I guess I did a good job of poo-pooing why that wasn’t necessarily a big deal) … wait, strike that: the day of the Turner waiver claim was also the day after Javier Baez’s debut, so that’s why)).
  • The most popular post of the year? Yeah, it was the constantly-updating Jon Lester decision post. The second most popular post? Yeah, it was the constantly-updating Jon Lester post immediately before that one.
  • The next most popular post was actually the Colby Rasmus one from a couple weeks ago. Why? Not because it was so exciting – if memory serves, that one happened to get picked up by Bleacher Report’s team stream thing. I guess it’s really good when that happens. So, um, thanks, Bleacher Report. Please do that again.
  • Fourth was the Samardzija/Hammel trade post. Fifth was the post for the second day of the draft. Sixth was the Bonifacio/Russell trade. Seventh was the post for the first day of the draft. And eighth, much to my relief, was the financial piece. I’d hoped that would still be near the top of the list by the end of the year.
  • The most popular Enhanced Box Score of the year, by traffic, was the box for the Cubs’ win against the Rockies the day after Javier Baez’s debut.

Thanks again to all of you for a great year at BN (if you missed my more specific, heartfelt thanks on Christmas, see it here).

Here’s to 2015!




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