Rozner: Chicago Cubs now held to different standard

 
 
Updated 8/20/2018 6:13 AM
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  • Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon call for a timeout with the bases loaded to pull the outfield in and have an outfielder change gloves as the Pittsburgh Pirates bat in the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon call for a timeout with the bases loaded to pull the outfield in and have an outfielder change gloves as the Pittsburgh Pirates bat in the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, in Pittsburgh.

As Chicago Cubs players were interrogated, the suggestion seemed to be that it was a must win.

In the middle of August. With a one-game losing streak. While owning first place in the division. And possessing the best record in the National League.

This is where the Cubs were last week after dropping the first of two against Milwaukee and coming back to win the second and final game of the series Wednesday.

"There's a lot of folks who would've been running for the hills if we had lost," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, having taken a reasonable temperature of the fan base. "There's still a long way to go. You can't overreact. The power of 24 hours is evident.

"I can't emphasize that enough. If you want to ride the emotional roller coaster it will wipe you out."

Well, that's the enjoyment of sports, living and dying with every victory and defeat, but Maddon sounded just a tad annoyed with the lack of perspective.

And he's correct.

It's no secret that the Cubs' starting rotation has not lived up to its billing this season and has made 2018 much more difficult than it should have been.

The rotation has continually put pressure on the bullpen and the offense, and if the Cubs can't find three reliable starters before the postseason they could be headed for an early exit.

But with six weeks remaining in the season, panic is not the appropriate route.

This is still a team that's been to three straight NLCS, won a World Series two years ago, and maintains a lead in the division and in the National League.

While not meaning to diminish the rotation issues, which have been significant from the start, the sky is not exactly falling on the North Side of Chicago.

At the same time, the reaction to the Blackhawks Convention and their summer of acquisitions and defections has been made up mostly of pitchforks and torches.

True, the path to prosperity is unclear and the plan appears to be one of hopes and prayers and patience, but this is a team that's captured three Stanley Cups this decade and 16 months ago finished with the best record in the Western Conference before a sweep at the hands of the Preds.

Once again, not trying to diminish the obvious concerns going into training camp, but an atomic ending to the franchise feels mildly over the top and lacks some perspective.

Yet, in the Bizarro World in which we currently exist, the Bears have not only received a free pass for three years but have also been universally praised for a lengthy rebuild that enters the fourth season in a few weeks.

After four drafts and four chances in free agency -- in an awful league where teams often turn it around in a year or two -- the Bears will be celebrated if they win seven or eight games in 2018.

And while that would be an improvement from 5-11 last year and 14-34 over the past three, it seems that the expectations for a franchise that hasn't won a title since 1985 are comfortably low.

The front office is fortunate that it has set the bar so low that fans and media will order double-decker buses and confetti for a .500 season in 2018.

Meanwhile, the two most successful franchises in town -- the Hawks coming off nine consecutive playoff appearances and the Cubs ending a century-long drought -- are under attack seemingly every day.

Granted, expectations have grown exponentially for both and anything less than a title is a disappointment.

It's good to be there. It means much has been accomplished. You don't want to take a step back.

But perspective is difficult to find in the Bizarro World.

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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