View From The Bleachers

May 28, 2010

Too Early for the Panic Button?

Filed under: Featured,General — Chet West @ 5:00 am

The 40 game mark in a baseball season is a rather important milestone. Within about 10 games either way a manager usually knows what they have as a team, and what they still need in order to have a shot at the post season.

The 40 game mark is also important for the fan. It’s typically the time at which many hit the panic button. Baseball fans, in general, are neurotic troubled souls who flip flop back and forth between optimism and pessimism. They can do a one eighty and go from hatred to love within a pitch sequence. Most likely in the not to distant future they will hate again and the whole cycle repeats itself.

Have you ever taken a good look at a fan whose team has won the World Series? I am not talking about right after the final out or even that night, more like days later. They still have that perma-grin slapped across their face but it comes with sighs of relief and a look of exhaustion. Sort of like a marathon runner, so proud to have made the finish line and reached the ultimate goal, but relieved they avoided dehydration, heart failure, or diarrhea (apparently it happens). There are so many things that can sneak up on you inside of 162 games and to avoid the pitfalls is difficult for the best of teams. It is no wonder the ride can cause lunacy for those watching it unfold. Imagine 162 chances to experience every emotion humanly possible.

I turn into Sybil…..

Through a baseball season I am a seesaw of emotion. One day optimistic enough to think that the Cubs are post-season bound and the next denying that I watch them and declaring that I refuse to do so until they attempt to put a winning product on the field. The moment I come back to the “optimistic” side a nice slap of reality usually lands across my face. Around the 40 game mark pessimism is the devil and the panic button is its cold mistress.  Hell, sometimes I hit the button after the third game of the season…..don’t lie you’ve done it too!

I would say this season is no different. I would actually go as far as the seesaw almost broke. Yup it was right after the sweep we endured at the hands of the Pirates. When the seesaw breaks it can be roughly translated as, I stop watching ….for the rest of the season.  However the boys rode into Philly and stole the first game which forced me to pull out the duck tape and put the seesaw back together again. I got out the hammer and nails after the Rangers series to reinforce the thing and low and behold the dodgers come to town and we get another win off a first place team.

Can we believe?

Is there reason to believe in this team? If they can beat some of the top teams in the league does that mean there is promise?  Here are a few examples of the lunacy we experience…..

The optimist looks at Carols Silva and says what a steal! We dumped a total head case and got a sinker ball pitcher in return who is rolling at 6-0. Admit it, in any other situation, if Hendry signed a big name pitcher in the off season to $12 million/year deal and he started 6-0 we would laud him for his managerial cunning and ability to get the owners to spend.

The Pessimist is waiting for either Silva to eat himself off the roster or at some point spontaneously combust while on the mound leaving a crater for the rest of the pitching staff to crawl out of.  In a way sending him back to the hell that better represents his days in Seattle and explain their desperation to trade one headache for another.

Another example would be Aramis Ramirez. The pessimist says Ramirez’s star has faded at 32. He is aging and washed up with power numbers on the decline for 3 seasons now. This recent injury is another in a long line to come. Somebody get ready to call up Vitters! We need youth!

The optimist digs up that one stat and rides it. In the seven seasons with the Cubs Ramirez has not batted under .289…yup, that’s the lowest. Baseball players have a way of living up to their averages. He will get it figured out and be back in our good graces in no time!

(Unfortunately if he continues the futility at the plate through the all-star break this means Aramis will need to hit upwards of .380 in the latter half to prove this theory….might not happen…..not saying it wont but you know where I am going)

This is the birthplace of crazy….

The first quarter of the season is over and there are 114 games left. Maybe jumping ship is drastic at this point. Maybe, just maybe, we can sit back and give the team a chance…..or at least until the all-star break. Then again if we have even the most remote chance at that point, a new insanity called a trade deadline will begin. The never shocking yet always stupid comments like,  “Hey, we need a third baseman, why doesn’t Hendry trade Grabow for Alex Rodriguez?” will start popping up on message boards and blogs around Cubbie nation. I can’t wait as this years edition should be extra nuts!

There is no sport that gets picked over and analyzed as much as America’s pastime.  Because of the stats, the length of the season, and the need for immediate gratification baseball breeds the insane. Throw in the fact that your team has failed to win a championship in over a century and you have a whole new level of crazy, the kind that makes you give up out of self preservation before the race even begins….the kind that makes a grown man ride a seesaw.

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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19

  • wax_eagle

    Every Cubs media guide should be printed with “Don’t Panic” in large friendly letters across the cover.

  • Doug S.

    Good article Chet. A little too early to press the panic button, but it needs to be within easy reach. To me the key is staying within striking distance of the division at the All Star Break and come out swinging to close July. I think it’s those 3 weeks or so that close July that usually tell the tale. How about a happy ending this time?

  • Mike S

    Good article. I think 3 weeks from now we’ll know either way. Can Soriano keep hitting, will Silva keep it up? Having lived in Chicago for 6 years now, I am tempted to give a response of a resounds “NO.” But maybe this year will be different. But w/ the improvements of the Reds, along w/ the tough lineup that Brewers roll out every day, and the fact that the Cardinals haven’t hit any kind of stride yet, I can’t help but be pessimistic…hopefully they prove me wrong.

  • http://chicitysports.com/forum/ Terrelle Pryor 2

    I have hit the panic button before on this season. Those are called the days I moan and count down the return of football and wish it were here

  • mrbaseball2usa

    My hope has been jettisoned for this year. I’m still watching and enjoying, but the emotional attachment is on hold ’til next year. We just don’t hit enough in the clutch to go deep in the post-season.

  • David M. Beyer

    Panic button? With this roster giving up on the season is pressing the Rational Response button.

  • Big Bob

    When it comes to the Cubs, at this point of the season, I am not longer an optimist. At the same time, I’m not a pessimist…I’d like to think of myself as a “realist.” As an old friend once told me years ago, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken S #@%&@ T.

  • http://tinkerstoeverstochance billyp

    Nice blog and I agree, after todays game the question is why can’t they win when the-riot sits? I am so frustrated with aramis and d-lee.

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