by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

For me, Opening Day is about two things, baseball and faith. Our most polarizing teams, the Cubs and Sox, will be going into a season of transition. Both teams are at the bottom in terms of expectations. Nobody can honestly believe that next year is this year, or that the Sox will have a miraculous rebound and compete with the Tigers for the division. Faith is running low around town, and that’s perfectly understandable.

Indeed, these two teams will struggle all year to win a combined 150 games. This is not breaking news. Sports illustrated didn’t exactly endorse either side of town as a real threat to do anything of import this season, but I think it’s important to keep perspective on what really matters this year. The White Sox are on the back end of an arc that must always complete itself before a normal team can be competitive again. Cubs fans are familiar with this arc, it occurred during the 2009-2011 campaigns. It was in those years that the front office panicked as they saw the talent on the field get older and less effective. The window was closing too quickly for an organization that was ill-equipped to deal with a reload. The Cubs fabulously fell flat on their faces as the bad GM moves by Jim Hendry caught up and overshadowed the good ones. The decade of being a sometimes contender was officially over on July 22, 2011 when Hendry was finally fired, but in truth the Cub window had shut at the end of the 2008 NLDS.

The arc had completed itself and the Cubs lucked into Theo Epstein, and a new arc begins on the north side. The White Sox championship arc hinges on what the overall team mission is moving forward. Kenny Williams loves to avoid the rebuilding tag, but perhaps the Sox best shot at competing once again lies in a complete tear down. The ghosts of 2005 have given Kenny a second life as GM, something that is rare in the current baseball climate. The bad money is catching up with this team as the contracts of Alex Rios and Adam Dunn have hamstrung an organization that begs its fans to come out and buy tickets in early April so they can acquire talent in June and July. This arc is about to complete and the question that faces Kenny Williams, assuming he survives another bad season, is how to restock an organization that is completely devoid of impact talent without having to face the realities of a rebuild?

Indeed, it’s a question that both front offices have to face. The Cubs farm system is ranked higher than the Sox system by almost everyone, but their impact talent is all in the batting order. The Cubs pitching depth is lacking, and it’s something that Epstoyer will need to address moving forward.

If we were looking at a graph both of these teams would be around the same point, but the arcs are perceived to be moving in different directions. Whether they are or aren’t is immaterial for this season, and for tomorrow. Yeah, I know the Cubs are targeting 2014 as their Championship window and the Sox have yet to lay out a plan for beyond this season, but for me this year I can just enjoy baseball.

I haven’t been able to do that as a Cubs fan. There was always a desire to win this year. “Oh man, we can’t let this get to 100 years, we gotta win now,” type deal was going on before 2008. I mean, we can dial this sucker back to when the Cubs unexpectedly won 88 games in 2001 and set the bar sky high in 2002 only to fall soooo flat on their face that the hopes and dreams of an entire fanbase were pinned to the arm of a 21 year old California kid with something called a slurve. Then 2003 happened and the Cubs were set to compete again in 2004. Then Nomar got hurt and then the White Sox won the damn thing, and then they signed Alfonso Soriano to a crazy contract and then Lou came and then they caught fire in 2007 and then they were the best team in baseball in 2008 and then the let go of DeRo and then Milton Bradley was an asshole and then and then and then…

It was fucking stressful.

Yeah, I don’t want to be that fan that doesn’t care if they win or lose even though it sounds like I’ll be that dude this year. What I’m saying is that I’m looking at different things this year while understanding the result isn’t the end all be all this year. I don’t know who on the roster besides Castro will be on the next Cubs contender. So this year I’ll get to pay attention to the simple things that made me fall in love with the game to begin with. I’ll care about Castro’s approach at the plate, I’ll enjoy the simple elegance of a well turned double play. I’ll be paying attention to outfield positioning and fundamental yet aggressive baserunning. I’ll get to sit back and just watch the damn game without having to stress out about the Cardinals/Brewers/Reds for a change.

It’s gonna be nice around here for a year. For me at least. Some of you will still care about this years record, a lot more of you aren’t going to watch baseball after June. That’s fine, trust me. When I get that dollar ticket and end up down in the front row with the rest of the 15%, I’ll be thanking you for not caring this year.

I actually don’t begrudge you for being skeptical, but here are somethings that I don’t want Cubs fans to say this year:

HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO DEAL WIT DIS THEO EPSTINE GUY! I’M PAYING TOP DOLLAR FOR SEASON TICKETS AND HE’S BEING CHEAP AND DOESN’T WANNA SPEND DA MONEYS!

No, you’re just wrong. There’s a plan in place. I don’t know when you bought your season tickets, but I’m pretty sure that in a few years when I believe the Cubs will be contending you won’t be complaining about how much you paid to watch a playoff worthy product on the field ever day. Season tickets are a risk man, I’d love to have your problem.

DA CUBS SHOULDA GONE AFTER DAT POOHOLES GUY, OR AFTER DAT PRINCE GUY!

No. The Cubs have a target date for when they want to spend money, and would prefer it not be tied into a guy like that for 10+ years.

DA CUBS ARE CHEAP DEY KEEP CUTTING DA PAYROLL!

Look at the money they are committing to scouting and development and then get back to me.

DEY SHOULD KEPT DAT KARCHNER GUY HE WAS A GOOD PROSPECT! AND DEY GAVE UP TOO MUCH FOR DIS EPSTINE GUY!

Cashner has a ceiling and it’s likely as a reliever. Those guys are a dime a dozen. Carpenter is hurt again and also had a ceiling as an RP. Epstein is worth more (although I do kinda wish the Cubs got the other Boargerts, but that’s neither here nor there).

SOX SUCK!

Please kindly shut the fuck up and never speak again. It really doesn’t matter and I think the Cubs might suck worse this year. You’re giving me a bad name.

IMA GO BE A SOX FAN NOW SCREW DIS REBUILDING CRAP!

Cool, more cheap seats for me.

WHO’S GONNA PLAY (X POSITION) DIS YEAR?

Someone from Iowa, I don’t care, it doesn’t matter in 2012.

DUDE, BRAH, LET’S GO TO THE (INSERT DOUCHEBAG NORTHSIDE BAR HERE) BRAH!

Die in a fire.

RYAN SANDBERG

Ryne douche

WE’RE NOT DAT FAR AWAY WE NEED TO GET SOMEONE AT DA DEADLINE (8 GB in June)!

I would take a look if it were to happen, but it won’t so shut the fuck up.

SHHHHH!

I will shove your white sunglasses so far up your ass if you ever shush me at a baseball game.

DEY LOST TO DA PIRATES IN AUGUST? TRADE EVERYONE ON DA TEAM DEY ALL NEED TO GO!

Yeah that’ll happen at some point, but it won’t be because they lost to the Pirates in August.

DIS (RANDOM 30 YEAR OLD IOWA CUB CALLUP) GUY IS PRETTY GUD HE’S GONNA BE A STAR!

He’s 30 and his name is Micah Jake Scales III. He’s not a young prospect, he’s about done growing up.

GO CUBS GO, GO CUBS GO, HEY CHICAGO WHADYA SAY DA CUBS ARE GONNA WIN THIS DAY!

Mercifully, their record should limit the number of times I hear this.

Conclusion

I’m just going to enjoy the ride this year. Sox trash talk won’t bother me, douche Cubs fans won’t bother me to an extent. I’m going to go watch more games this year because my faith in what the organization has been renewed. I could give you a bullshit line about how anything could happen and the Cubs could find themselves in contention this year, but I don’t believe that. It’s fine really. I’m just here to enjoy baseball.

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