The five stages of Cubs grief

Today was a new low point for the 2007 season. After 5 straight losses, the last three of which have been embarrassing blowouts, the Cubs punctuated today’s horrible performance in all facets of the game with a fight between our ace pitcher and our struggling catcher. Fantastic. I’m not about to place blame on either of the two; this situation is everyone’s fault.

So let’s take a look at this Cubs season so far, and where we’re undoubtedly going.

Stage 1: Denial

The Cubbies may be 8 games under .500 now, but this is not the worst winning percentage they’ve had this season. No, in late April, the Cubs were floundering along at 7-13, a terrible record in its own right. At this time, the offense was performing pretty badly, but the Cubs still had a very good run differential that belied their record. Hope was abundant; with this much-improved collection of talent, the ship was going to be righted… right?

Stage 2: Anger

For a while, things were looking pretty good in Wrigleyville. In early May, the Cubs had risen to .500, and were even above it on two separate occasions. But then as a crucial swing of series against two good East teams, the Sox, and two good West teams started, the wheels completely came off for the bullpen. Led by Scott Eyre, the ‘pen completely imploded. Saves were blown, winnable games were lost, and no lead was safe with these guys trying to close the door.

Naturally, the rest of the team followed suit. The offense, yet to reach anything near its potential, hasn’t improved at all. Alfonso Soriano’s got 4 HRs, Derrick Lee 5, and Aramis Ramirez is the only one over 7. Our surprising trifecta of starting pitchers, Jason Marquis, Ted Lilly, and Rich Hill, all picked the same time to regress to their career norms. All this naturally makes for five game losing streaks and a bad team sinking in an even worse division.

Given the talent level on this team, it’s surprising they weren’t punching each other earlier. (If Lou Pinella was alive, none of this would be happening.)

Stage 3: Bargaining

Already, in the wake of this Wrigley Rumble, the blogosphere is buzzing with trade talk. Should the Cubs get rid of Zambrano? Or Barrett? Or everyone? Clearly something has to be done, between this embarrassment, the inept bullpen, and the mess of an outfield, there are trades that could be made. (By ‘clearly,’ I mean that I’m currently oscillating between bargaining and anger and it seems obvious at this time.)

As much as we would like to think so, trades aren’t going to turn around this team. The last three years should have proved that. But the rumors will only intensify, and by July, they’ll most likely be the singular focus of Cub Nation as the team flounders on the field.

Stage 4: Depression

At some point in the summer, Cubs fans will realize that if this team really is a bunch of losers, trades or internal changes are going to fix it. That’s when the booing starts. The destructive, poisonous booing that’s become all too common at Wrigley these days that effectively ensures that many players cannot rebound from the natural ups-and-down of a career while still in a Cubs uniform. (As for Corey Patterson, well, he may never be the same). And while this is increasing, it’s still pales in comparison to a much more popular mentality for the Cubs fan:

Stage 5: Acceptance

Wait ‘til next year.

(By the way, today was Carlos Zambrano’s birthday.)

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