The Cubs are on the precipice of their second double-digit losing streak of the season, during which time they’ve been outscored by 45 runs. They have traded away several star hitters and key relievers, replacing them with players whose names even their own broadcasters flub. They released a former ace because of his repeated awful performances only to see their two best remaining pitchers suffer similar fates in subsequent starts.
Watching the Cubs right now feels like clogging up traffic because you’re rubbernecking to check out a wreck in the opposite lanes. There’s nothing to be gained from watching and you’re only costing yourself and others time and attention that could be better paid to other endeavors. Ah, but that doesn’t stop you. Well, not all of you.
So if you are one of those poor souls whose gluttony for punishment is akin to mine for kettle-cooked jalapeno-flavored chips, here are some
excuses reasons to keep watching the Cubs over the next few weeks.
You run a blog or host a podcast
This is admittedly applicable to a small fraction of the four or five people who will end up reading it, but given the number of critics I’ve encountered, there are many more who feel they could do a better job. Whether you’re producing content for public consumption or just dictating articles in your own mental notebook, the games are worth watching for context.
Even if you’re only catching intermittent glimpses or pulling up the Gameday app on your phone, it’s helpful to have an understanding of what the Cubs are doing.
There’s no outcome anxiety
This is one that I think a lot of folks still need to embrace, or perhaps it’s a matter of letting go. Nothing the Cubs do at this point really matters, so the wins and losses are entirely irrelevant to anything other than their draft position. More on that in a bit, but there’s something freeing in simply not giving a damn about what happens. It’s almost like watching a playoff game in which you don’t have a rooting interest.
The best part is that you can flip over to something else or turn the game off entirely without really worrying that you’re going to miss something. Rather than the game itself drawing you in, it’s the very fact that you can pivot emotionlessly in just about any direction that makes the viewing experience more pleasurable.
Oh, they gave up 11 runs in the 2nd inning? Eh, the first episode of Marvel’s “What If…?” is only about 30 minutes long, so I can stick with the Cubs for a while longer.
Draft pick race
If you’re one of those folks who really believes a rebuild was the right choice or was legitimately “necessary,” well, I don’t agree with you. However, the toothpaste is out of the tube on that one and there’s no use arguing about how ownership should have freed up more funds for the front office to add a better surrounding cast and/or extend some core players.
As such, the Cubs are flailing their way to 100 losses and a top-5 draft pick less than two months after they sat in first place in the NL Central. With Friday’s loss to the Marlins, the Cubs are tied with the Rockies for the 10th-worst record in MLB and they’re just two games better than the Marlins. Miami currently holds the fifth pick, but there are three more teams in the mix as well.
The Cubs have 19 games remaining against the Marlins, Royals, Twins, and Rockies to see who can win the Tankathon down the stretch. If it’s a high draft pick you want, the final 44 games will provide a measure of high drama. Of course, MLB draft picks are significantly less predictable than those in other sports where those players can have an immediate impact.
You also need to have faith in the organization’s ability to identify and develop high-end talent, which hasn’t necessarily been a Cubs hallmark over the last decade and beyond. They built the last winner on the backs of first-round picks, though, so even a different overall tack could be aided by a similar approach when it comes to getting a very early selection.
Watching Jake Arrieta was painful because he was flat-out bad after the first month of the season and it was clear he would play no role in the team’s future. He was also surly and incapable of admitting the truth about his performance, so that didn’t help. His departure now clears a little more room for younger starters to get a chance, whether it’s Justin Steele or Keegan Thompson.
We should also see more young relievers coming up to join Manuel Rodriguez as he flashes triple digits with the fastball. What’s tough is that they don’t really have much to play for when it comes to the team, though that’s often the case in the minors when winning isn’t necessarily the organization’s focus.
I’m not sure whether that’s the case for Adbert Alzolay or not, but it’s reasonable to believe such a perpetually positive individual would be weighed down a bit by what’s happening in Chicago right now. After going 4-4 with a 3.62 ERA through his first 10 starts, the righty is 0-9 with a 6.79 ERA over his last 11 starts and now has a 5.01 ERA across 140 MLB innings stretching back to 2018.
A lot of people on Twitter took it way too literally when I referenced Greg Maddux‘s first two seasons and either pointed out the age difference or believed I was saying Alzolay will be a Hall of Famer. Come the hell on, folks. The point is that Alzolay still has plenty of time to figure things out, particularly when he’s still getting used to a repertoire that includes three pitches — slider, two-seam, cutter — he has been throwing for a year or less.
Allow me to rile up even more people by saying that Jacob deGrom didn’t even make his MLB debut until he was a month shy of his 26th birthday. Again, I’m not comping the two pitchers to one another. In this case, it’s a matter of someone being a late bloomer and then continuing to figure things out as he went along. Now we’re talking about deGrom being the best pitcher on the planet and possibly still getting better at age 33.
Please don’t waste your time worrying about letting me know how much better deGrom was right from the jump. I’m away. But let’s not go throwing out Alzolay’s potential just because he’s looked rough over the last couple months.
You like being angry
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of being perpetually online, it’s that a not-insignificant portion of society just wants something to be mad about. Like they just don’t know how to function unless they’re angry, even if it’s mainly performative. Well, the Cubs can certainly help get you to a decent level of righteous indignation if that’s what you’re seeking.
I can pretty much guarantee you this team will give you something to bitch about on a daily basis. Should they ever win a game again and threaten the sanctity of your vexation, just remember how they traded everyone off or boasted how Marquee Sports Network would be dumping wheelbarrows of cash into the baseball budget.
There’s really not much else to take away from the next month and a half of the season, but you can still find ways to “enjoy” Cubs baseball if you want to. The biggest reason, and one I didn’t mention because I suspect it’s what really drives most of you, is that it’s a lifelong habit you don’t see fit to break just yet.
Got any more reasons to watch? Drop them in the comments below…if they’re actually working.