Throw It Like a Ballplayer

providing baseball commentary and ponderings since April 2010

300 homers ain’t what they used to be

Posted by dannmckeegan on June 13, 2010

Over the course of a single week, two Chicago Cubs reached the 300 home run milestone for each of their respective careers.  Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano have a lot to be proud of on the field, and historically one would expect Cubs fans to be appreciative, as well.  But today’s Cubs fans don’t have the same mindset as the fans of yesteryear.  Up until the NLCS of 2003, Cubs fans largely were happy with anything that exceeded mediocrity.  It was this attitude – a multi-generational forced acceptance of impending failure – from which the “lovable losers” moniker arose.  The sea change that began with the so-called “Bartman game” (a.k.a. the “Alex Gonzalez boots a routine grounder game” or the “Chickens coming home to roost in the wake of Hendry’s inability to short up the middle relief situation mid-season game”) turned even uglier as the Sammy/Dusty era came to a close with the firing of a critical announce booth of Steve Stone and Chip Caray.

What does all that have to do with Lee and Soriano? Expectations.  Greater things are expected of the Cubs than individual feats.  Numbers 300 are minor footnotes because of the disappointing playoff performances of 2007 and 2008. The fire was finally lit under Cubs fans. In one of the nation’s largest markets, the top baseball franchise must be a perennial contender. Anything less is more than disappointing. It’s unacceptable. That’s why numbers 300 were nothing more than footnotes in the reporter’s notebook columns, not a focus of the game report.  It’s a shame as far as the players are concerned.  But it’s also a positive thing, as a Cubs fan, to see some disgruntlement and empty seats. Put a winning product on the field, not one that the former owners would thing marketable.

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