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Baffoe: Be Thankful, Cubs Fans, Not Angry

By Tim Baffoe--

(CBS) How can you even be mad right now, Chicago Cubs fan?

A little disappointed after being swept by the Mets in the NLCS? That, I can understand. I'm right there with you. Any losing tastes sour and metallic.

But, c'mon, we talked about this, remember? At the risk of rubbing up against a nasty, greasy cliché, this wasn't the year. It didn't need to be the year.

All the young studs coming in such a hurry, playing out of their minds — it's like you were given the keys to an ice cream parlor with the understanding that there would be plenty of super awesome tasty ice cream for years to come.

Joe Maddon: 4 wins from World Series 'in your freshman year is not a bad thing'

And despite that, you ran instead and ate a tub of rainbow sherbet and a tub of peanut butter-chocolate right away, and now you have a headache and in your tummy, the acidy citrus syrup from the one is going to town on the heavy bag of the other. Whose fault is that now?

So go clean off your face, change that stained shirt, drink some Pepto and come back here.

Now how about some perspective. What you saw most of this season, you're going to see that most of next season. And the one after that. And likely a few more to boot.

There's an amazing foundation in place on the North Side. It's young, it hasn't reached its collective ceiling and it's locked down for a while. The team you root for is the envy of the rest of baseball. Other teams are terrified of the Cubs going forward.

Feel better? Just a little? The St. Louis Cardinals are worried about your favorite team. Eh? Eh? Yeah, I saw that almost-smile there.

Think about how much fun you had this baseball season in which the spring training consensus was these Cubs were almost but not quite there yet.

"Hey, that's what we expect and that's what we believe, and that's what we're going to do," Anthony Rizzo said in spring training. "We're not going to accept anything else. If you don't start believing that now, what are you going to do?

"If we are going to accept finishing in third place, then what are we playing the game for?"

And you were all like, "Yeah! That's what I like to hear out of my ballplayers" -- all the while not really believing the Cubs first baseman.

You had the Kris Bryant call-up hoopla and subsequent Rookie of the Year season. Then it was Addison Russell Day, and all he did was quickly look like a veteran out there. And then Kyle Schwarber belly-flopped into the pool party. Oh, plus there was Jake freakin' Arrieta and what should be his Cy Young Award.

"I'm gonna talk playoffs," manager Joe Maddon said at his introductory press conference. "I'm gonna talk World Series this year. I promise you I am. And I'm gonna believe it."

And you thought, "Good for you, crazy person. Just help make this something viable within three years."

Then the 2015 season was amazing, good feelings to be had with Cubs baseball from season's start to finish. A year in which you were supposed to be monitoring individual growth instead of wins turned into 101 total victories. How often in your lifetime have you had seasons like this one?

But, nah, be bitter about this exit from the postseason. Pout. Mumble second guesses to yourself. Lose faith in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and start thinking likely Manager of the Year Maddon to be more hippie than sage. Curse the whiffing hitters and the rocked pitchers who failed you ultimately. Because that's what this ending is, right? Failure?

It's not a step in a process, no sir. No, being realistic doesn't feel as good as brooding right now. Be mad at a young, inexperienced team, because that's productive.

Or how about being thankful for what the collective group brought this summer? Months that included dismal baseball on the other side of town, a pending Bears season you dreaded, and different-but-ugly issues off the court and ice for the Bulls and Blackhawks, respectively, leading into their new seasons. At the very least, these Cubs were an escape from that negativity for a few more weeks than usual rather than being part of it themselves.

They will be a respite going forward, too. You might consider being thankful for that, too — attaching your rooting interests to a team with a philosophy of sustained success with smart scouting, drafting, signing, and trading — instead of being sore about an exit.

This isn't a one-and-done group. Actively ignore any attempt to apply historical stats or meatheaded mythology to a team like this actively divorced of history.

You got so much more than you asked for, and on top of it your favorite team did America a favor and ridded the playoffs of the Cardinals. Spin that clubhouse disco ball, damn it.

Tim Baffoe is a columnist for Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.

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