I didn’t have too many expectations for the Cubs entering 2011, which I might add, was quite refreshing. The past few seasons were a real drag, and 2010 was about as exhausting as any I can remember; a season full of disappointment, where you felt like the team was out of it once they fell behind by one or two runs.
While 2011 hasn’t been full of success, a 9-9 record the epitome of mediocrity, the Cubs this year are different, or seem to be. They are at the very least, fun to watch, something that I can’t say I was able to do for quite some time.
Star appeal has as much to do with that as anything, and in Starlin, that’s exactly what Cubs fans get to see blossom, a star. The 21-year old gives you a reason to tune in every day. He’s young, he’s exciting and most importantly, he’s immensely talented. The surprise of Darwin Barney (not exactly star material) has been pleasant, enough to make me forget the, though admittedly not hard to do, TOOTBLANing Theriot and Lil’ Babe Ruth Fotenot, both fine players in their own right, but nevertheless.
Derrek Lee was one of my favorite Cubs, and Carlos Pena hasn’t done much to make me forget about him (Lee did enough on his own sad to say), but even so, I am finding the strikeouts comical in a way. In years past I may have been pulling my hair out or burying my head in my hands, but for whatever reason, this season seems different.
Aramis is older, and creakier, and you know he will never take that extra base, but there is something about him not being the focal point of the offense that is all the more comforting to me. Same goes for Soriano, who apparently has found a little thing called patience. Already he has six home runs, and unlike years past, they aren’t coming in bunches, surrounded by mind numbing slumps.
Marlon Byrd is hard to dislike, though I would love to see him move out of the three hole, provided there is a suitable option for replacement. Colvin, Fukudome, Soto are all alright in my book. Zambrano looks like ace material, and the bullpen is well…okay, I’ll quit while I’m ahead, not referring to you Sean.
The point is this: expectations were low, which should never be the case for the Chicago Cubs. So many teams would kill to have the cash they do. However, at 9-9 early the season, I can honestly say I am enjoying Cubs baseball again. I’m not sure how many of you are with me on this, it could be a lonely island, but I have a feeling it’s not.
Sure the Cubs are always going to make you scratch your head, it’s their milieu, but it can at least be enjoyable at the same time. So far, and I know it’s early, I can say the words fun and Cubs in the same sentence, and after two playoff sweeps and two years of blah, I’m okay with that…for now.