What It Means to Be a Cub: The North Sides Greatest Players Talk About Cubs Baseball

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  1. Down and Out at Wrigley Field
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Elia, who was in his second year as manager, reached the clubhouse, but found his path blocked by members of the Los Angeles news media. When reporters started asking questions that Elia perceived as provocative, he lost it. The Cubs these days are remarkably popular in Chicago, having drawn 3.

In , however, the Cubs averaged 18, and ranked 16th out of 26 teams in attendance. Cleveland, that other baseball city in vogue, was last in attendance that season. Other years were even worse in Chicago. The Cubs drew 7, fans a game in Late that season, Elia was fired, like so many other Cubs managers before and after him. Wrigley Field was simply the wrong place at the wrong time for Elia, who has worked with a lot of the coaches and managers who are currently in the World Series.

He will cheer for the Cubs on Friday, like so many other native and adopted Chicagoans. But Elia will also remember the times when nobody was cheering for him. Tell people back in or or that the team would willingly bid farewell to a man just three years removed from leading the Cubs to a World Series title, and they would have demanded, What's next?

Times change. Maddon no longer has the keys to Wrigley Field because it is a far different culture there now than when he arrived in A culture created, in large part, by him.

Top 10 Chicago Cubs of All-Time

He tried not to suck. He brilliantly communicated as if speaking in tongues, reaching everybody—players, fans, front office, media, the zoo animals he scheduled for annual spring training visits. He was part manager, part emcee, part ringmaster, making baseball fun all over again, every day.

And he won. The franchise's first World Series in years. Took the team to three consecutive National League Championship Series. Now, the North Side's outsized expectations are higher than the Sears Tower.

Down and Out at Wrigley Field

Check that. It's now called the Willis Tower.

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You look at our first year, in when we made the wild card, we were on top of the world celebrating. Then in , we're pissed. And now in , the man who managed the Cubs through the most successful period in their history will pack up his famous "Cousin Eddie" RV and head for greener pastures.

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  • The thing not everybody understood all summer when debating whether the Cubs would fire Maddon is that by allowing his contract to expire, it became his decision, too. What's left behind is a mess not all of Maddon's making—not even close. When the miracles ceased late last year and the Cubs blew the NL Central title to the Milwaukee Brewers , and when the water turned stagnant instead of into wine this summer the only season in five Maddon didn't lead the Cubs to the playoffs , it had far more to do with the roster of players he was handed than what he did with it.

    Fixing that, for President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, is a far deeper issue than finding a new manager.

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    Cubs leadoff hitters this season were shamefully bad, ranking 30th —dead last—in the majors in on-base percentage. Granted, Ben Zobrist took an unexpected and extended leave of absence in May when his marriage blew up. But the Cubs never adjusted. Recent free-agent signings largely have ranged from disappointing to shockingly poor.

    Given his long history of injuries, Brandon Morrow had as much of a chance of being a dependable closer for the Cubs as he did kicking field goals for the Bears. Tyler Chatwood failed as a starter. Craig Kimbrel failed to save either his or the Cubs' summer after holding out until June.

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    Overall, the Cubs ranked third in the NL with 28 blown saves. Rowan Wick? Brad Wieck?

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    David Phelps?