An Ending

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An Ending

Chicago Cubs

The things we love rarely end the way we want them to. Simple enough reason for that: if you love something deeply, you don’t want it to end. Almost any ending will be disappointing.

We’ve known for years that the 2021 Chicago Cubs season would mark some kind of ending. We couldn’t be sure the precise form, but we knew that so many core player contracts/control, as well as the deal for the man who’d constructed this group, Theo Epstein, would expire after the 2021 season. We knew that eventually, the nature of the aging curves and the luxury tax and young player development and a dozen other things would dictate that this group – this period of time as we have known it – would be broken up. The ending was preordained long before it would actually arrive in November of this year.

And in fact, a lot of it has already happened. Epstein departed a year early to begin the transition process. Jon Lester’s option was declined and his overtures to re-sign for another year were met with a lack of funds. Kyle Schwarber was non-tendered. Heck, long-time Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper has already left.

This isn’t even the beginning of the end. We’re already months deep into it.

I don’t think it was too much to hope that the Cubs would extend another core guy or two, smoothing the sharpest parts of the ending, but that hasn’t happened. The 2021 season begins today, and that means the distant but observable horizon that separates the now from the after approaches more clearly. The strokes of the clock are louder and more grating.

The shape this 2021 Cubs season takes is completely inscrutable to any honest observer, from the front office to the fans to the various projection systems. This team could actually be pretty great if a lot goes right! Or this team could be so bad that we’re dealing with even more of the ending by July. I won’t pretend to offer any more certainty than that about the baseball stuff. I like a lot of what I can see about this team: a great defense, what could be a sneaky good pitching staff, and a lineup that is top-to-bottom with “could put up huge numbers” guys. At a baseball level, there’s a lot I’m looking forward to seeing play out in our first full baseball season in a couple years.

But I know that I have to find a way to make peace with what the 2021 season is going to be, regardless of the particulars on how many games the Cubs win or who gets traded or who gets re-signed. Because every realistic version of the season I can imagine unfolding still comes back to the same place.

An ending.

It probably won’t look exactly like I want it to. These things, as I said, rarely do. But it’s coming whether I want it or not, and whether I’ll like it or not.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.