I was watching the HBO Sports show the other night, and they were talking about the lack of all-girls baseball teams and how the game always has been a sport for just boys for the most part (that’s a column for another time).
As part of the segment, they showed historic video clips of Major League Baseball, and there it was — Kris Bryant making the throw across the diamond to Anthony Rizzo to win the 2016 Word Series. You could hear Joe Buck exclaiming, “The Cubs win the World Series! Bryant makes the play. It’s over, and the Cubs have finally won it all!”
What a moment that was — I kind of got a little misty-eyed. How lucky and just overjoyed all us Cubs fans were that glorious November night — I never will forget where I was and all the celebrating with my wife, son and daughter and online with my siblings and friends.
How quickly we all have forgotten — one of greatest moments in the history of sports.
Yes, this season was brutal, and the collapse this past week was disappointing. But it probably won’t even rank at the top of my Cub disappointments, and I’m not going to list those. No need.
I don’t believe this is the end of an era either. Sure, there are going to be changes, probably more so than other offseasons. With some tweaking of the roster, the Cubs can be as competitive as they’ve been. There’s still a good core in Bryant (he’s not going to be traded), Rizzo, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras.
The Cubs have some decisions to make on guys such as Albert Almora and Ian Happ, how Jason Heyward fits in the lineup and if they can re-sign Nicholas Castellanos as a free agent.
The foundation is there for a solid starting rotation with Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish and Jon Lester. They do need a good fifth starter, possibly Tyler Chatwood, Adbert Alzolay or Alec Mills.
The bullpen will get a much-needed makeover, as most won’t be back with the exception of Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan and Brad Wieck. Maybe Craig Kimbrel will benefit from a spring training — you hope, anyway.
Manager Joe Maddon likley won’t return, so there’s another void to fill.
Who fills out the rest of the roster will be speculated about for the next several months, but I have faith in Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Cubs, and his assistant, Jed Hoyer.
“The severity of the fall-off in the past couple weeks has been alarming and shocking,” said Epstein in a radio interview Thursday on 670 The Score. “... But many of the issues had been foreshadowed over the course of the year.”
The Cubs got off to a 2-7 start this season, got hot in April and were in first place for a good part of the season. Whether it was the slow start or the weight of expectations, they never did play consistent, solid baseball for long stretches. They played well at Wrigley until the last week. It was a real head-scratcher of a season.
“Failure should be the best motivator there is,” Espstein said.
I’ve got to believe Theo and Jed will figure it somehow.
“It’s got me to a place where I’m extremely motivated to get it right,” Epstein said in the interview.
It’s going to be a strange October with the Cubs not in the postseason for the first time since 2014. I still believe we’re in the Golden Age for Cubs baseball, an era that’s included four straight postseason appearances, including three consecutive NLCS appearances.
This run was unheard of when I started watching the Cubs on a small black-and-white TV back in 1968. It wasn’t until 1984 the Cubs even made the playoffs and would do so just five more times during the next 31 years.
I still believe in this team. I can’t wait until next season.
A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.