A Contrarian’s Take on the Cubs’ Game 1

Game 1 of the 2015 baseball season didn’t go quite according to script for the Chicago Cubs and, as we head into tonight’s game 2, it seems as though Cubs nation has already given up. Some tell us the first game was a nightmare. Some who were at the game say the fans at Wrigley were out of it after the second inning.

Screw that.

This is highly reminiscent of last year, when the Cubs lost to a tough-as-nails Francisco Liriano. Remember? Anthony Rizzo struck out three times and all anyone could talk about was his struggles versus lefties in 2013 and how he was obviously going to suck again. Ask National League southpaws how that turned out for the rest of the season, then think about that as you stare at 0-for-whatever with runners in scoring position.

Intelligent fans love to talk about sample sizes to put stats into perspective – except during spring training and the first week of the season, in which case EVERYTHING IS PREDICTIVE.

The nightmare article I linked to up there – by the way, I’m not picking on that writer AT ALL. Anyone who reads me, both of you, knows that I hold John Arguello and Cub’s Den in absolutely the highest regard. Anyway, John says, “In reality, only winning can cure what seems to be a chronic malady and give us a new perspective.” To that, I respectfully say, “Bullshit.”

I’d invite you to read this comic from Zen Pencils, featuring the words of Chris Hardwick. For me, this is the money quote:

It’s a weird and glorious moment of self-awareness the day you realize you are the warden rather than the prisoner of your emotions.

All Cubs fans need to take a deep breath and ponder that. This season has barely started, but if there is one thing I can guarantee you, it’s that the outcome of the season has zero relationship to what happened in 1969, 1984, or 2003. It barely has any connection to last year. And the result of the very first game of the season tells you absolutely nothing about how the rest of the year will turn out. This is the nature of sports, and baseball in particular. It’s a clean slate, so if you are already filling it with darkness and gloom, realize that’s coming from you, and nobody else but you. Not Leon Durham or Steve Bartman or Curt Schilling.

Here’s what I woke up Tuesday morning thinking about opening night.

It was a tough loss against a very tough pitcher – but there is no shame in losing 3-0 to Adam Wainwright. Jon Lester clearly wasn’t sharp, but by no means were the Cardinals knocking him around. In fact, for a guy who was so far behind in spring training, St. Louis didn’t hit him very hard at all. I only see him improving as the season goes on. But for some voodoo magic at play, that score could easily have flipped. It was a loss and I didn’t like it, but I didn’t think it was a bad loss. It was easy for me to find positives. The bullpen was outstanding. Sure, Mike Olt was 0-4 with two strikeouts, but every at bat was a battle (in his third at bat he grounded out on the first pitch, but every other AB took 5, 6, and 7 pitches). Tommy La Stella is well on his way to claiming the Theriot/Barney gritty second baseman crown and the adoration that comes with it. And there are 161 more games to play.

The next of those games is tonight. I hope the Cubs win, but, if they lose, it will change nothing about my feelings for this season. That’s not blind optimism or naivety, it’s self-control. We need to practice more of that, fellow Cubs fans.

Sorry that’s stuck in your head now.

Dylan Steele

About Dylan Steele

A Louisiana native, Dylan Steele now lives in Halethorpe, Maryland. A web developer by day, he is also an occasional musician, frequent dog walker and sometimes hoopster. And now he blogs, too.
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