When Anthony Rizzo caught a throw from Kris Bryant and tapped his foot on Progressive Field’s first base on November 2, 2016, one thing was for certain: Joe Maddon would never have to buy another drink in the Chicago area.
Perhaps every member of that historic Cubs squad, enders of the century-plus championship drought, was deserving of immunity in Windy City limits. But a new curse indirectly began from the old one’s end: that of expectations. One-hundred eight years of disappointment were instantly erased, and suddenly Cub and New York Yankees fans were hard to tell apart.
Chicago has been to the playoffs in each of the ensuing seasons since the title, but find themselves fighting for their postseason lives in the final stages of the 2019 campaign. They’re currently up a single game on divisional rivals from Milwaukee entering Wednesday’s action. Naturally, fingers have been pointed at Maddon, the head man in charge of it all.
Perhaps instead of Maddon, blame should instead turn to the names he’s in charge of penciling into the lineup. The Cubs’ relative collapse has been somewhat sped up by veterans not performing to their expectations. Outfielder Kyle Schwarber is batting a mere .235. Three starters, including the pricy Jose Quintana and Jon Lester, have ERAs near 4.00 So, naturally, Maddon needs to rally the troops prior to the postseason.
Another unsung culprit, however, could well also be the fans that fill the Friendly Confines on a nightly basis.