Lincicome: The Cubs are right back where they belong

  • With Anthony Rizzo traded to the Yankees, would any future sustained failure by the Cubs mean there is a new curse?

    With Anthony Rizzo traded to the Yankees, would any future sustained failure by the Cubs mean there is a new curse? Associated Press

 
Updated 7/31/2021 8:04 AM

Characterizing the dissolution of the Cubs as the "end of an era" is generous and laced with irony. One World Series victory is a highlight, not an era, and playoff failures since are reminders of what could have been, what should have been.

The Cubs are restored to the comfort of the commonplace. Welcome home, lovable losers, back to where you belong.

 

Bullies cannot be lovable and if the Cubs had done what was promised five years ago, they would have forfeited their legacy, becoming just another desperate sports franchise grounded on talent, shrewdness and the standings. You know, like the Yankees or Dodgers, the Cardinals, too.

"Wait till next year" was never a conviction but a birthright for Cub generations, passed along with reassurance that suffering is what made the Cubs the Cubs and Cub fans Cub fans.

No tears, please. The Cubs know what the bottom is like, and they seem always to find an easy chair and a TV remote to ease the ache.

Curses may now be created again, and I can imagine the Curse of Rizzo next, like the Curse of the Bambino in Boston, except Rizzo is no Babe Ruth, nor even a Mark Grace, for that matter. Still, a successful post-Cubs Rizzo would be something to hang the coming failures on.

The "big three" of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez had been more the "occasional two and a half," with each one taking a turn at the half.

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Wonder is a shock and it is a slur. Doing the unexpected is more a novelty than a distinction. You do not forget your first kiss, your first car or your first pet, unless it was a goldfish, which most likely was your second and third pet as well.

That is the Cubs story and 2016 cannot be untold. Like wedding dresses, ear swabs and coffins, the Cub glory was a single-use item. Not an era at all, barely a fortnight.

It is just as well. A twice-told tale vexes the ear of a drowsy man. Or to put it another way, repeats and three-peats lose their luster.

Recall taking for granted the Bulls of the '90s (who were, by the way, less celebrated from the first to the sixth title than the Cubs were in their once) until even the owner got bored.

The Bears never matched one glorious season, and now they live off the memory of '85, relying on lingering worship for doing once what they should have done at least four more times. To quote Sean Connery, "That's the Chicago way."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The White Sox's shining moment of '05 was the city of Chicago's re-entry into the major leagues, and how generous of the Cubs to donate closer Craig Kimbrel to help find the way back.

The Cubs took one victory lap, waved gratefully and now return to where the world was perfectly happy to have them, there on the shelf with trail mix and microwave popcorn, handy when hungry.

Who's fault is this? Why, karma, of course. Kismet, serendipity, any of those mystical bedfellows that always find room at Wrigley Field.

But more practically the blame rests on Jed Hoyer, the bigfoot with a finger in every pie, not to mix a metaphor. Theo Epstein needs some blame, too, having left the Cub skeleton, scampering away before the bones collapsed.

If a "new era" is coming for the Cubs, it will not be soon and it will not be with Hoyer or apprentice manager David Ross.

The Cubs will revert to the well-worn biannual introduction of saviors, new managers, both general and field. We all know the tune.

I turn to old cornpone coach Bobby Bowden, who once explained to me the temporary nature of being in charge.

"When I got my first job," Bowden said, "I asked the old coach if he had any advice. He said he had left three letters in his desk and to open one each time I had a bad season.

"After my first bad season, I opened the first one. It said, 'Blame the players.' After my second season, I opened the next one. It said, 'Blame the press.'

"After another bad year I opened the last one. It said, 'Write three letters.'"

I suppose there are emojis for this now. But sound advice, nonetheless.

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