Entering the 2013 MLB season, expectations for the Chicago Cubs were tempered to put it mildly. As it stands through 13 games, the Cubs have lived up to those limited expectations with a 4-9 start. Many of those nine losses have been nail-biters, heart-breakers, insert euphemism here, that could have easily been victories had the cards fallen in a different way.
What is the reason for Chicago’s early-season struggles? Is it lack of talent? Inability to produce in clutch situations? Too much pressure to succeed?
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is defined as:
A prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.
In this case, the prediction prior to the 2013 season was that the Cubs would not be talented enough to win close games, would crumble under pressure, would have a bullpen that couldn’t hold leads for a starting pitching staff that both on paper — and in turns out, in reality — would hold its own.
That prediction has burrowed itself into the minds of each Cubs player, whether they tell you they don’t read the papers or not. The agreement, in turn, they have with themselves is that they can’t win the close game, can’t hold after a quality start, can’t make the big play — and as a result, they don’t.
I refuse to sit here and say that the Northsiders’ struggles are due solely to mental weakness because there are obviously some major areas of concern, and positions where the Cubs are just not talented enough, but yet attitude is still standing in the way between even a slight glimmer of hope for an improvement in 2013 and another 100-loss grind which will lose fan interest by mid-May.
Change in the talent level is solely due to the Cubs’ management, and isn’t something the players themselves can actively affect. What can be affected, however, is the attitude — and as much as I hate the word, the swagger — surrounding the clubhouse at Wrigley.
Who will be the first reliever to take pride in their job and hold a quality start?
Who will be the next clutch hitter to drive home a walk-off run against the odds?
Who will be next to make me sound like some type of liberal-shrink-wacko for suggesting that the Cubs are just in a feedback loop where success is virtually impossible?
Hopefully, for the sake of the Cubs faithful, someone will.