Loving the Player vs. Loving the Team: It’s Nearly Impossible to Happily Have It Both Ways.

Five years ago, there is no way we thought we would be here today. Not in a million years. Yet here we are.

Today, more so than ever, the north side of Chicago is feeling the pain and agony of saying goodbye to core pieces, definitely heroes/legends, and entering a period of uncertainty and wonder. Although this feeling is familiar for seasoned Cubs fans, it’s oh so different this time, because these guys and this core provided something no other core could say they did – a championship.

Yeah, we’re very sappy today. We’re VERY heartbroken. And we’re PISSED.

Anthony Rizzo is now a member of the New York Yankees. Kris Bryant is now a member of the San Francisco Giants. Javy Baez is headed to Queens with the Mets. There’s no sense in talking about the return on these deals. What return is going to be deemed as a victory when you’re trading three men who helped end a 108 year drought? Nothing compares.

If you’ve been a Cubs fan for life, you know how this goes. A star becomes a star playing in baseball’s cathedral, and then they get traded for something different because of their value, and the Cubs don’t spend money. And then maybe sometimes, at the end, they’ll come back to Wrigley for one more go around in a farewell tour.

Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins – 8 years with the Cubs, traded to Texas.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Greg Maddux is deemed the next lifer – the next Ernie Banks/Ron Santo (Santo had one final year with the Sox batting .221 with 5 HRs, stick with me here). Lost him in Free Agency.

I can make an argument for Sammy Sosa here too. You’ve got the cheating stuff and what not, but ask anyone who Sammy Sosa is and they’re sure not going to say a Baltimore Oriole. He was a fan favorite, whether you like it or not, Tom Ricketts. Cub for life.

But let’s talk more recent. Ryan Dempster, with exception to Sammy, was my first favorite Cub. Even he didn’t WANT to go, but he said if you’re going to do it, bring back someone who can finish the job. This is the one and only instance where it worked, because that trade brought back Game 7 starter & current ace Kyle Hendricks.

Cubs fans know how to say goodbye to their favorites. We know this all too well. What we don’t know or understand is how you say goodbye to our World Series Champions.

I will never understand how things went so poorly with Kris Bryant. The relationship started off on a terrible foot with service time arguments and holding him down for a couple of months to start 2015 in order to gain an extra year of club control. Sure, I get it. But then he goes on that year to win Rookie of the Year. Then, the next year, he wins MVP – and oh yeah, the first World Series any of us have ever seen. You’re telling me after those two seasons, you can’t think that maybe you should start working out a contract with FIVE YEARS TO SPARE to keep him here until the end of time?

Javy Baez can lack discipline at the plate, but show me a guy who has gone harder for the Cubs than him. His plays were flashy, his swag unmatched. You could tell he loved playing baseball for not only himself, but the Chicago Cubs. He was our guy through all the ups and downs.

Anthony Rizzo became the captain of this team in 2014 when he was ready to take on the entire Cincinnati Reds roster by himself, while on a 100 loss team. He stayed here, he made this place his home, he remained the captain of this team and this city. Extension talks were on and off, but it was hard to believe a deal would not get done and he would not be a Cub for life. But here we are.

Now more than ever is a reminder that this is a business before it is anything else. If you’re going to love a team, you can almost no longer love a player. You’re setting yourself up for heartbreak 9 out of 8 times. I don’t know how else to put it or think about it.

Right now, it feels like a slap in the face to players and fans, you know? Jed Hoyer took the reins of this team and it feels like he only has one thing in mind: getting guys that are HIS guys, no matter the cost. Lester, Schwarber, Rizzo, Bryant, Baez… those guys were Theo’s guys. He wants to build a team from the ground up like Theo did. Theo started with nothing, so Jed wants to too. Or is it the Ricketts controlling what’s in the wallet? That’s a different blog you should read on this site.

The difference I feel like is Theo HAD to start with nothing. There was nothing here.


Theo bought some materials and built a beautiful, magnificent, incredible World Series winning house, the likes of nothing Chicago has seen before. Did stuff break? Of course it did. Lots? Definitely. But there was always a foundation and core intact to build on. Then, he handed the keys to Jed Hoyer. And instead of investing in and using that same core and foundation, he wants to take a sledge hammer, wrecking ball, bulldozer, and dynamite to it, blow it all to pieces, to start over when he doesn’t even have to.

Ok, maybe not that. He is basically keeping all of the individual parts, all in great condition and working better than anyone could ever imagine, and selling them off to other house owners in the neighborhood in exchange for smaller, cheaper pieces that MIGHT work kinda the same one day. Makes total sense, right?

It’s a business, baby. It all depends on who gets to call the shots.

Now there’s a possibility that this is part of the plan, and these means of destruction are just for show. Jed could be getting something for these guys with a plan to sign them in the offseason. We won’t know that until November/December at the earliest. If that is the case, this half season of bitterness and upset tones and dysfunction would be for nothing and I’m totally okay with that. Give me my guys, ya know?

BUT – if I’m Kris Bryant, or if I’m Anthony Rizzo, even Javy Baez… Why would I sign here again? You couldn’t figure this out with ample time to figure it out, you’ve shown me no care, you’ve shown me no plan but to start over without me. You’ve shopped me around and dangled me like a cat toy for months, even years. Why would I ever come back? Couldn’t blame them for thinking like that. Ever. But, let’s not get ahead of anything. More importantly, let’s not get our hopes up.

Right now as a Cubs fan I have multiple emotions, and not one of them has anything to do with returns because I don’t care right now. I’m sad to see the guys who brought me a championship go after being treated unfairly and undeservingly. I am mad at ownership for limiting our happiness to one trophy because their cheap and in the wrong business.

But most of all, I am so happy for Anthony, Javy, and Kris that this is over. It’s done. There are no more questions, and best of all, they’re in control. They are on competitive teams looking for a championship, and willing to sell the farm to do so. And after this season, THEY decide what happens. They finally have the freedom they deserve to go play where they want to play.

I will always be a Kris Bryant guy. I will always be an Anthony Rizzo guy. I will always be a Javy Baez guy. I will always be thankful for everything they were to me and the Cubs, and I will never forget the run they gave me, wins and losses alike. And I will ALWAYS resent the Cubs front office and Jed and Tom and whoever else for messing this up so badly and putting us in this position we never thought fathomable.

But I’ll still always love the Cubs, and that makes life so freaking confusing and complicated.

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