Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Home Stretch: In Search of a New Rooting Interest

Caught a little bit of the Cubs-Pirates game last night but the rout was on pretty early. The Cubs were up 6-0 after 4 innings and that score held until the end. Unfortunately, the Rockies won their game, too, so playoff hopes are over for this year. Unlike the O's, the Cubs weaknesses are on the offensive side. Looking at the stats for the year, I'd say the heart of their order is pretty strong. If they're to go shopping in the off-season, I'd say look for a better leadoff hitter. Team speed in general could be a big help - not necessarily more steals but certainly a stronger threat to steal. Having power in your lineup is great, but it helps to have decent runners on the base paths to extend an inning.

Of course, the big question for the Cubs is what new ownership will bring. The Cubs are a strong brand in baseball. Unfortunately, the caretakers of the past have been more than happy to market the team on the lovable loser label. It has been a profitable approach for a long time. Hopefully the new folks will take more interest in actually winning. Championships can be great for the bottom line, too. Given the chance, there's no reason why the Cubs couldn't become the new Yankees.

With the Cubs eliminated, I lack an obvious rooting interest for the playoffs. Here I am deep in the heart of Red Sox Nation and I just can't bring myself to become a Boston fan. I've tried. I always root for them to beat the Yankees (lesser of two evils). I was delighted when they finally won the World Series and I rooted for them against the Rockies for the second one. But when they took on the Rays last year, I just couldn't do it. The Cinderella story was too good. A rooting interest is a complex emotional reaction. Sometimes, it's best not to question it.

If the current standings hold, I think I'll go with the Rockies to start. I like it when teams who've never won finally do.

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