I don’t want to presume to tell you how to be a fan, but . . . here I am doing just that. I’m just trying to be helpful. And like so many other people whose attempts at helpfulness produce nothing but aggravation, I’m willing to take that risk for you. I’m a giver.
What I want is for you to enjoy being a Cubs fan and to avoid looking stupid in the process. That’s not to say I don’t look stupid. It’s too late for me. Save yourself. If you start by eliminating these expressions from your personal Cubbie lexicon, you’ll also be saving me a couple thousand facepalms a week.
10. Player X needs to step up.
In basketball, sure. But in baseball? Players step up when they’re told. It’s your turn to hit. Go step up. If it’s not, sit down and find a new cliché. If a player has a bat in his hands, he should try to be as productive as possible. If he’s wearing a glove or a mitt, he should try to prevent runs from scoring. A baseball player’s duties in any given moment are pretty well defined for him. The guy who tries to do more than he can is either trying too hard or wasn’t trying hard enough to begin with. Either way, stepping up is an indicator of stupidity in baseball.
9. This loss is on Player X.
There are virtually no instances in which one player acts completely independently so as to determine the outcome of a single play let alone the entire game. For every batter who strikes out, there’s a pitcher who bests him. A pitcher can’t just give up 8 runs in the ninth; he needs the cooperation of his defense and the opposing batters to yield that result. Baseball is a game made up entirely of confrontations. Every showdown has at least one winner and at least one loser. To place the outcome of a game on one player is to ignore the efforts, failures, and victories of everyone else involved. And that’s dumb.
I just don’t get this one. It’s just funny that there are still people who actually cup their hands around their mouths, lean back, and say the word Boo. Educated, evolved human beings. I don’t get it.
7. Player X does not belong on this team.
Okay, this one isn’t something that should never be said, but for this team? How many outstanding major league talents are waiting in the wings right now? If you know how to lose half the time, you belong on this Cubs team.
6. You’ve got to get a hit, induce a groundball, make contact, hit a flyball, etc. in that situation.
We know that there’s very little any player can do 100% of the time in baseball. No pitcher can throw strikes 100% of the time or get an out 100% of the time. No hitter will make contact with every pitch. Starlin Castro began the year with 35 straight swings without missing and it was ridiculously amazing. But for some reason, everything we know about sample sizes and rates gets flushed down the mental toilet in the context of a game. We expect players to suddenly get better. Not just better, perfect. A swing and miss is unacceptable here. A ball outside of the strike zone is unacceptable. Yielding a hit is unacceptable. It’s not that easy. Hell, not saying stupid things isn’t that easy.
5. Mike Quade doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Technically, you don’t know what Mike Quade’s doing. He knows. It might be foolish on occasion, but it’s not like decisions are being made by accident.
4. Tom Ricketts doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Never mind. This is probably true.
3. Always (see also: Never)
People always use these words when they’re talking about the Cubs and they’re never right.
2. This is the year.
Of the rabbit? Yeah. Of the Cubs? Let’s just not go there anymore. Again, my goal here is for you to enjoy the Cubs fan experience. Convincing yourself that a World Series at Wrigley is imminent is not a recipe for happiness.
1. Player X is on pace to hit .400.
Normally I would have put the bit about the Cubs not winning the World Series in the top spot, but I went with this one because I’m really growing fond of the name Player X. This team needs a Player X. Maybe Soriano can be Player X. I’ll pretend he’s Starlin Castro’s long lost mysterious older brother. Yeah, that would be cool. But he’s still not on pace to hit .400 or 50 homers or make 243 errors so stop saying it.