I Am Ready for Whatever Comes Next

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I Am Ready for Whatever Comes Next

Chicago Cubs

I think saying “it hasn’t been an easy time to be a Chicago Cubs fan” is probably the wrong phrasing, since there are far more challenging things in the world than simply existing in a state of affection with some laundry.

But there is some softer version of that expression that is undoubtedly true. We knew the emotional comedown from finally DOING THE THING in 2016 would be substantial, but who knew that the performance comedown would track right alongside it? Couple that with a systematic selling off of nearly every beloved player from that era – and then throw in a pandemic and a lockout just to really mess with everything – and there is no question that this is a psychological nadir for many fans.

With that nadir comes an outsized reaction to everything. Every potentially good thing gets handwaved, and every potentially bad thing gets amplified. It bothers me to see it when I don’t agree, but at the same time, given the last five years, how can I be that upset by the reactions of people who’ve been buffeted almost monthly by the decline in the team and the drip-drip of legitimately ugly news? People are mildly scarred. I try not to judge them for it. I just try to fan how I want to fan.

And for me, that means I am very ready to watch the organization transition from what it has been since 2014. I loved so much of that period of time, but I also recognize that a whole lot broke in 2017 and never recovered. Change – not just to the big league roster – was badly needed, and I remain open and excited to watch that change play out. The Trade Deadline in 2021 stung. I can’t deny it. But it was probably a necessary sting, and I do revel a bit in the newness of things. Different isn’t always good, but I’m ready for different.

The 2022 version of the Cubs is assuredly not going to be the best version of the big league team over the next five years (right?!?), but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a great deal for me to follow. I want to know what will happen with the fliers from last year and from this year. I want to know what happens with the young pitchers. I want to know what will happen with the new coaching philosophies. I want to know what will happen with another patch-work bullpen. I want to know what will happen with certain new additions. I want to know what will happen with the farm system. So on, and so on.

I want to know whether, in November, we can look back and say that this year was clearly a year of substantial progress, whatever shape that takes.

I want to see what stories this team and organization have for me to follow as a fan this year. There are so many possible paths for this year’s team – and the organization as a whole – and I can imagine being satisfied by many of them. I can imagine the thorny alternatives, too, but I’d rather stick to the outcomes that might bring me a little more joy. I just want to be open to it.

Ultimately, certainly for today, I’m just happy to have Cubs baseball back.

I know that the bullshit at the periphery will always pop up now and again, but the start of the season offers the best reminder that the whole point is the sport, itself. They play. We watch. We cheer. We hope.

I’m ready to get sucked back up into whatever this season offers. I’m ready to overreact to one inning. I’m ready to overstate a week’s worth of at bats. I’m ready to let myself start to believe silly things after just a month of fringe contention. I’m ready to do and be and say all the things that brought me to Cubs fandom in the first place. I am ready for whatever comes next.

Happy Opening Day. Let’s go.

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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.