Rozner: Cubs fans need not be haunted by the past

  • Chicago Cubs' Chris Coghlan, right, celebrates with Dexter Fowler after scoring on a double by Kris Bryant during the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs' Chris Coghlan, right, celebrates with Dexter Fowler after scoring on a double by Kris Bryant during the fifth inning against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/22/2015 6:47 PM

Cubs fans have come to believe that heartbreak is part of their DNA.

It is not.

 

It's a significant and recurring part of your history with the team, assuming you've been around at least 20 or 30 years, but despite what you've been exposed to in the media, it has nothing to do with goats, jinxes, plagues, curses, Gatorade buckets or fan interference.

Most of the time it was incompetence, whether on the field, in the dugout or up in the front office.

That's why you need not fear what comes next. Losing is most assuredly not inherent.

While there's no guarantee the Cubs will make the playoffs this year or win a World Series in the next five -- though I believe they will -- different this time around is the people in charge know what they're doing.

See, it's all about the plan and those executing the plan. Theo Epstein, Jason McLeod and Joe Maddon are the best at what they do.

When they got here, Epstein and Co. put a strategy before the fans and media. Not everyone understood it, and some obviously still don't.

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They said they would invest in the organization starting at the bottom, and they have rebuilt the Cubs exactly that way.

They had a plan and they have executed the plan. They stuck with the plan when questioned at every juncture, and even this July would not deal the Kris Bryants or Kyle Schwarbers to try to win a single playoff game.

They stick with it. And when things don't go according to the plan, they have a backup plan. Most crucial, they happen to be good at executing the plan.

Yes, it's all about having a plan and then having the people to pull it off.

The Cubs have both and intend in the near future to have a team capable of competing for a playoff spot annually and, in turn, having a chance to win the World Series every year.

Not one game. Not one time. Not one year.

Consistently competing to make the tournament every season. This is a new concept around these parts and somehow too complicated for some to grasp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cubs history, on the other hand, is fraught with going for it today and paying a huge price for it tomorrow, a terrific gamble which has worked precisely zero times for the Cubs in the last century.

Before Epstein, the only other man to try it the current way was Dallas Green in the 1980s, and he was well on his way to making it happen when interference from Tribune Co. brought about his firing.

But a year after his departure, the Boys of Zimmer had a great run in 1989, built on the selections of Green and his staff, who drafted Greg Maddux, Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston, Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Joe Girardi, Damon Berryhill, Doug Dascenzo, Jeff Pico and Gary Varsho, among others.

They also drafted Rafael Palmeiro and traded for Ryne Sandberg, a prospect Green had a hand in drafting while with the Phillies organization.

Yeah, Green might have gotten it done had he truly been given the chance.

After him, several Cubs executives talked about rebuilding the minor leagues and putting in place a system where the Cubs could rely on their own prospects to get them to the playoffs, and then deal the ones they didn't need for the parts that would put them over the top.

But no one had the patience to actually do it. The chance to win quickly replaced any thought of a long-term plan, and here we are 30 years later with a management team and ownership committed to the plan and to winning a World Series with that plan.

If you make the playoffs one time, yes, bad things can occur and kill your chances of dancing at Clark and Addison.

You've seen enough of that to know it to be the case.

But make the playoffs consistently over a 10-year period and your chances of being taken down by bad luck shrink considerably.

Of course, having really good teams built on the strength of a monster farm system allows you to make mistakes and have players who can pick up the slack.

So while heartbreak has taken a toll on your psyche, the simple truth is nothing that's occurred over previous decades has anything to do with what will happen over the next six weeks or the next six years.

You need not fear curses and monsters, goats and foul balls, "Cubbie occurrences" and other assorted gibberish.

We're all haunted by our past. We all have flashbacks and nightmares. But how you're affected and how you live your life is a choice you alone can make.

Why not just enjoy the ride and let go of past misery?

And let those in charge do the worrying for you.

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.

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