Perry: A bar crawl through Cubs history

From SABR member Dayn Perry at on April 6, 2015:

On Nov. 3, 2014, the Cubs introduced their new manager, Joe Maddon, at a bar — the Cubby Bear on Addison Street, just across from Wrigley Field, which was at the time encumbered by scaffolding, tarpaulins and construction dust, all owing to the $500-million renovation of the ballpark and its nearest environs. It was the start of what would be a winter of uncommon optimism on the North Side of Chicago.

Coming off a 2014 season in which the Cubs showed improvement as the weeks went by and having assembled a farm system loaded with high-ceiling talents like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell, the organization was already trending upward. Then came Maddon, the decorated manager who, in defiance of resources and history, skippered a consistent winner in Tampa. Weeks later, the Cubs would sign lefty Jon Lester, one of the most coveted free agents of the offseason, and trade for core contributors like Miguel Montero and Dexter Fowler, in addition to bringing back mid-line starter Jason Hammel.

It was against that unfurling backdrop that Maddon declared his goal for 2015 was to win the World Series. The serialized miseries of the Cubs are so familiar that it’s become a baseball refrain: no pennant since 1945, no World Series triumph since 1908. However, given Maddon’s presence in tandem with a front office that was central to the Red Sox’s drought-ending title of 2004, there’s a rare level of bullishness surrounding the Cubs right now. Maddon’s goal-setting was perhaps too hasty, but it wasn’t implausible. The Cubs are an august, old-line franchise, and as a consequence of that long and generally dismal history, the fan base is always spoiling for signifiers of hope. When there are enough of them — and right now there are — the hope comes in spasms. “It’s up to us to capture this moment,” the new manager said.

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Originally published: April 6, 2015. Last Updated: April 6, 2015.