Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Bad As It Looked
by Derek Smart
The word came down last night, and by now you've likely already heard the news that The Savior has been laid low with a fracture of the distal radial and the distal ulna bones, which will put him in a cast for approximately six weeks, and could keep him out for as long as three months.
Honestly, I'm still processing this, although I'm actually feeling less depressed than I did after the injury to Nomar last season (which a diary over at Bleed Cubbie Blue eerily notes, occurred on the same day, if you're in the right time zone), which is odd because this one figures to be so much worse in terms of it's overall impact on the team.
That's where I think expectations come into play. Last season, I expected the Cubs to be in the mix for a playoff spot, and this year I don't, despite their hot and entertaining start. Not that I came into this season believing contention wasn't possible, I just didn't convert that belief to expectation the way I've done the last two years. I still had hope, just as I did in previous seasons, but without the added weight that comes with presumption of destiny.
And that's where I'm at, even today, even in the glaring light of this undeniable setback. When I look at this team, I don't see a group that should contend, but I still see one that could. Granted, the Cub's already razor thin margin of error has become mere atoms thick, but this was always a club that was going to rely on run prevention to get them where they were going, so this aspect of their game merely becomes a greater imperative. That the overriding goal is less easily achieved is starkly true, but difficulty does not preclude accomplishment.
So, I'll leave you for now with this advice: If you've had expectations for 2006, temper them. The team's prospects for success have been dealt a severe blow, and nothing can change that. No team is good enough to endure the loss of a player of Lee's caliber for half a season without suffering profound ill effects. The Cubs are clearly a significantly worse team today, and any assumptions you've held regarding their performance should be altered accordingly.
Yet, I implore you, do not lose hope. It may be a thing for fools and dreamers, but what's life without a healthy dose of daffy romance? Expectations based on false assumptions or misapprehension of facts can, indeed, cause great pain, but hope is a sustainer, and if ever there was a group of baseball fans in need of sustenance, it is us. So hope, my friends, hope and live, and if our hopes become flesh, then so much the better.