The Chicago Cubs wrapped up their 2021 season on Sunday with a victory over the playoff bound St. Louis Cardinals.
There is no great way to start this off other than to say, that was the weirdest season of most Chicago Cubs fan’s lives. The range of emotions that all of us went through this season are similar to those we have felt during this season of Ted Lasso. It has been an absolute roller coaster.
This season started off with familiar faces departing the franchise, a theme that would soon become a consistent plot line throughout the season. Len Kasper was no longer sitting next to his pal Jim Deshaies in the booth, as he took a job to call radio on the South Side. He was replaced by Jon ‘Boog’ Sciambi, who overall did a pretty solid job in his rookie campaign at the Confines.
Theo Epstein was no longer seen wandering around 1060 West Addison and Jed Hoyer stepped in to take his role as president of baseball operations. The Cubs opted to not hire a general manager prior to the 2021 season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The front office had been criticized in the offseason for letting a couple Cubs legends walk for very little money. Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester both found new homes in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, the Cubs traded one of their best pitchers in 2020, Yu Darvish, for a group of prospects that are younger than most of you reading this.
The expectations for the product on the field were not high, but a lot of fans held onto hope that this core could take one last ride into the sunset. Majority of the core heard their names in trade rumors all offseason, but maybe the Cubs could put together some magic in 2021.
The season started off a little slow with the Cubs finishing with an 11-15 start in April, this was followed by a very hot May in which the Cubs finished with a 19-8 record. On June 1, the Cubs were 31-23 and were sitting atop the NL Central. There were rumors that the Cubs could now be buyers at the deadline. The thoughts of trading away these core pieces that won the Cubs a World Series were beginning to become afterthoughts.
The Cubs launched the month of June winning eight of their first 12 games, including a sweep against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. The Brewers got red hot and as of June 15, the Cubs were tied with the Brewers atop the NL Central standings with a five-game cushion on the third place Reds. Cubs fans were very optimistic, there was a buzz in the air. Maybe this season was going to be something special after all.
Unfortunately, the wheels started to fall off after that series sweep of the Cardinals. The Cubs went on to win only six of their next 19 games, including a putrid 11-game losing streak. The Cubs were now eight games back of the Brewers in the NL Central standings at the All-Star Break and the imminent sell-off became a harsh reality.
The 2021 trade deadline will go down as one of the worst deadlines in Chicago Cubs history. The emotions that came along with saying goodbye to a core of players that brought fans such joy were enough to sit in a dark room for weeks. Just like that, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo were now wearing different uniforms. The Cubs began to trot out players that most of us had never heard of. It was the most difficult time most fans ever experienced when it came to supporting the team they loved.
The emotions were enough to push away Cubs fans for the remainder of the season. Some fans simply did not watch in protest of what the Ricketts family had done to a dynasty that never came to fruition. Fans all of the sudden would rather watch Giants, Mets, and Yankees games because they simply could not let go of what once was.
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it was right. I can truly say this core group of players provided the time of our lives for Cubs fans.
After all the drama, there were still baseball games to be played whether fans liked it or not. The Cubs now had new players to focus on named Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega, and some goof named Frank Schwindel.
The Cubs did not gain any viewers in the month of August, they went 7-20 with a lovely 12-game losing streak. That Frank Schwindel guy started to draw some eyeballs though by winning the National League Rookie of the Month. Schwindel hit .344 with six home runs, 18 RBIs, a .394 on-base with a .635 slugging and a 1.030 OPS in August. He was later named NL Player of the Week in early September.
Patrick Wisdom also made a name for himself earning NL Player of the Week honors in early June. He surpassed Kris Bryant’s rookie record for homeruns for the franchise, setting it in 101 games to Bryant’s 151 games.
The Chicago Cubs had some fun players that made the latter part of the season entertaining to watch. While it will never be the same, Cubs fans had a reason to tune in to see if these players could be part of the next core to bring happiness.
The Cubs ultimately finished the season with a record of 71-91.
All in all, it was a very bizarre season for Cubs fans. From letting some Cubs legends walk before the season started, to the unseen fight this core had before the inevitable send-off, to saying goodbye to players who will have statues made someday, and ending with a couple goofy players just looking to make the most of their times in the big leagues. The range of emotions this season brought will most likely never be seen again in our lifetimes as Cubs fans.
Here is to hoping the Cubs can compete again in 2022.
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