When it comes to talking baseball, the only foregone conclusion that exists is that there usually aren't any.
Well, at least past Pittsburgh posting another losing season.
Still, that's not keeping some Cubs fans from already expressing views that the team's season will mirror that of the pre-2008 Yankees or an NBA squad: An inconsequential series of warmups before the playoffs begins.
Yes, that'd be the same fanbase that just watched the Cubs get swept out of the playoffs for the second straight year, hasn't celebrated a World Series title in 101 years and hasn't seen three straight winning seasons since the streak of six from 1967-72.
Think I'm generalizing the feelings of shared inevitability? Well, then check out what Chuck from Ivy Chat has to say:
With four of the other five teams in the National League Central getting worse this offseason, the Cubs are expected to roll to their third straight NL Central title and a playoff appearance. And, with nine consecutive playoff losses, including first round sweeps the past two seasons, there's a lot of people who are approaching the 2009 regular season as just the dress rehearsal for the 2009 post-season. Count this writer as one of those people ...
2009 is all about post season success. Anything less than three wins after October 4th and the season is an out-and-out failure ...
Think about this: For fans that think this way, the Cubs now have Yankee-like expectations. About time.
I'm not going to argue that the Cubs aren't the odds-on favorites to win the NL Central. They won 97 games in '08, have been tabbed by Baseball Prospectus to win 95 in '09 and play in a division where the biggest free agents signed by rivals were Braden Looper and Trevor Hoffman in Milwaukee. When everyone rolls out their division predictions, the Cubs will top the Central in almost all of them (including mine), even if Lou Piniella has ordered his players from issuing prognostications of their own.
All I'm saying is that it's strange to see some parts of my Cubs fanbase take this quantum leap in their approach to the season, especially when the 2004 World Series drive ended with a collapse in the final week and especially when everyone in Wrigleyville is going to be turned into a quivering mess of blue Jell-o once the calendar hits October.
Then again, this is Chicago, where we've placed a few carts before a few horses and given the early cues to a few marching bands in our day. For more on this phenomenon, please research the multi-Super Bowl Bears dynasty of the mid- to late-80s.
And, heck, while we're discussing Chicago bravado and eventual pitfalls, do any Brewers, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates or Reds fans out there have anything to say?