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Chicago Cubs: Why Alfonso Soriano's Departure Hasn't Been the Celebration Fans Expected

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The excitement didn't last long when the Chicago Cubs signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year, $136 million contract during the 2006 offseason.

We looked at what he did in Washington the year prior -- .277 AVG, 46 HRs, 95 RBIs, 41 SBs -- and watched as the Cubs went on a spending spree that, for all the complaints, resulted in back-to-back division titles. Then we realized that no one can play to that level of contract, and that Soriano was going to be a monetary nightmare for the foreseeable future. And that was before the 2009 season.

With nothing to show but two failed playoff appearances, the spending spree ultimately didn't pan out and the team slipped further and further back into mediocrity. But Soriano and his now-six-year contract -- at $17-19 million per year -- remained.

Without the Cubs winning divisions, suddenly Soriano and his bloated contract were a lot less tolerable. It was now a yearly wish to see some opponent save the day by taking "Sori" off the Cubs' hands -- even if that meant swallowing the vast majority of his contract. That day finally came on July 26, 2013, when the New York Yankees decided to bring Soriano back to the Bronx.

Celebration should have followed around Chicago, but was hardly anywhere to be found. Instead, there was a disappointment that lingered over Cubs Nation over the departure of a player the city had been waiting to show the door to for half a decade.

Reports flooded concerning the emotion coming out of the Cubs' locker room over Soriano's departure and fans began hearing what type of guy, not player, Soriano is. And all of a sudden, Cubs Nation started to feel bad over all the grief they gave this guy simply because he took an opportunity to sign a mega-contract.

And it isn't like the man didn't produce. Over 6 1/2 years, Soriano had a line of .264 AVG, 181 HRs, 526 RBIs, and .812 OPS. These weren't on par with his numbers from Washington, but we had already realized expecting that from any player on a yearly basis was unrealistic and unfair. He was just saddled with an exuberant salary that he couldn't possibly play to.

But there was more to it than that. Cubs fans didn't just feel bad about it. There was a clear disappointment -- not in his departure, but in what that departure meant. Upon his arrival prior to the 2007 season, there were thoughts that the spending spree -- combined with the in-house talent -- was going to finally push the Cubs over the top. And it nearly did in 2008.

Even though the reality of that not happening set in long ago, Soriano's departure reminded Cubs fans specifically of what didn't get done during his tenure. And when you looked at his numbers, you realized that there were plenty of other players and coaches to blame for the lack of a World Series title before Soriano. And again, we felt bad.

The Cubs only got one player -- pitcher Corey Black -- from the Yankees, and are still required to eat $17.7 million of Soriano's remaining $24.5 million, but Cubs fans never thought they would get much different in any deal involving Soriano, so the letdown felt across Cubs Nation wasn't because of the trade itself.

In Soriano's leaving, we were reminded of the failures of the last five years, realized fans spent way too much time ragging on a player who really didn't deserve it as human being (or even as a player most of the time), and lost another scapegoat for Cub mediocrity.

We all thought there would be a party in Chicago the day Soriano left town (and perhaps there were some), but, instead, we felt a little down about it. Maybe sports fans have more of a conscience for individuals and their humanity than they like to let on.

Thanks, Sori. Good luck in New York.

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Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor Network and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.

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