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updated: 8/19/2017 6:23 PM

Rozner: Cubs not quite ready to fold franchise

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  • Theo Epstein, left, has followed through on the promises he made when he join the Chicago Cubs, yet some fans are unhappy with the way this season has gone.

    Theo Epstein, left, has followed through on the promises he made when he join the Chicago Cubs, yet some fans are unhappy with the way this season has gone.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

Not everything we witness requires a referendum.

Not every plate appearance necessitates a vote.

Not every baserunning decision, manager's call or defeat in the regular season must carry more weight than its individual moment.

Not even a single season, for that matter.

Perhaps it's a function of the current climate, or maybe it's the natural result of winning a World Series for the first time in 108 years -- and the inevitable downturn the following season.

But this has been the swirling water in the porcelain bowl for the 2017 Cubs, calls for impeachment and banishment, a desire to move on and find the quick fix.

Remarkable, really. Ungrateful might be the more apt description.

Theo Epstein has failed if the Cubs don't repeat, goes the skeptics' narrative, those already burned by Epstein who has delivered on every promise he's made since arriving in Chicago.

He said they would rebuild to the point of being competitive for many years, and the Cubs are securely nestled in a postseason window, expecting each year -- for many more -- to sniff the big trophy.

Sounds pleasant enough.

No, they are not the best team in baseball again, but they do have chance to win their division for the second straight year and make the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Last time the Cubs reached the postseason three straight years? Well, that was 1908.

And, oh yeah, they did win that World Series thing last November. Remember that?

Epstein will probably keep his job.

There's no defending Joe Maddon's in-game managing decisions in the 2016 postseason. There's also no reason to. It was awful. The Cubs won in spite of him.

But Maddon remains one of the very best in the game and if there's 10 things a manager must do every day, Maddon is very good at seven or eight of them.

His bullpen decisions and lineup construction can be confounding at times, but that's also partially a result of poor player performance this season.

Maddon is the same guy who brought along the kids perfectly in 2015 and led them properly into the postseason a year ago.

The manager isn't going anywhere.

The player under the most fire is Kyle Schwarber, who has now played the equivalent of one full season in the big leagues and owns 36 home runs.

One season.

As ugly as it's been, it's a hair early to give up on the guy. The Cubs would not have won the World Series if Schwarber hadn't returned, but the conquering hero is now treated as though he crossed the Rubicon.

He should be traded, scream the classes. Of course, selling low on a talented bat is always a bright idea.

While it probably shouldn't be a surprise, the overreaction to everything that happens this season -- positive or negative -- is nevertheless baffling.

The Cubs may yet win the World Series this year, though it's easy to see at least six or seven teams playing better baseball, and no team since the 2000 Yankees has gone back-to-back.

And it's not like the Cubs walked through the postseason a year ago. They were three outs from a Game 5 match with Johnny Cueto, had to rally against the Dodgers and had to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the World Series, forced to win the next three and Game 7 in bonus time after blowing a big lead.

Have we forgotten already how hard this is?

The Cubs will have much work to do in the offseason, building an appropriate pitching staff for 2018, but win it all or not this year they will return with a team next season favored by many to win the big prize again.

That was the plan.

Have a chance to compete for a division title every season and then take your chances in the playoffs.

Oh, wait. That's actually happening this year.

Maybe everyone shouldn't be fired after all.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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