Thank you, Joe, from a die-hard Cubs fan


Hey, Joe...

Before you finish packing up Cousin Eddie and drive out of town for good, I wanted to take a minute to say thanks for everything you’ve done for me, and for every other die-hard Cubs fan, over the last five years. Because of you, us Cubs fans are no longer a punchline. We’re no longer “loveable losers.” We’re no longer cursed by goats (who, by the way, have no business attending a baseball game in the first place).

In the fall of 2014, the Cubs had just finished their fifth-straight losing season, the final three of which happened as Theo Epstein began a full-fledged rebuild. Your Tampa Bay Rays team finished under .500 for the first time since 2007, and suddenly you found yourself a free agent. You had your choice of anywhere in the league to go, and you chose the North Side of Chicago. The importance of that leap of faith – to come to the Cubs – cannot be understated.

Without your belief in the direction of the franchise and your presence in the Wrigley Field dugout, four-straight playoff appearances never happen. Without you here, Jon Lester probably doesn’t choose to sign with the Cubs later that offseason. And once Jon joined your pitching staff, it sent a signal to the rest of the league that the rebuild was now nearing its completion and that the Cubs were ready to be contenders.

It all happened quicker than Cubs fans could have anticipated. The 2015 playoff appearance was probably a year sooner than most expected, but we weren’t complaining. And when you sent the Cardinals home for the winter by knocking them out of the NLDS that year, well, I didn’t think it could get any better than that.

Then it did.

Looking back at the 2016 championship run is fun now, but back then it wasn’t. Cubs fans spent their entire lives living and dying with every out. When the team went into a slump just before the All-Star break, people would say, “Here they go again, same old Cubs” (and a lot of those people were Cubs fans). But 2016 wasn’t business as usual.

You led our club to 103 wins, took care of the Giants in four games in the NLDS, ended the Dodgers' hope of an NL Pennant and bounced back from being down 3 games to 1 to the Indians to give Cubs fans the right to say what we were told we'd never be able to say:

“Our team is the World Series champion.”

And that is something that can never be taken away from us.

It was a grind just to get back to the playoffs in 2017, and in 2018 the Cubs ran into a Brewers team that just wouldn’t lose in September (sound familiar?). We knew going into 2019 that it may be your last one with the Cubs, and I know a lot of people are disappointed with how the season went. But that is a tribute to you. Because of your leadership, Cubs fans now expect to win, expect greatness from their players, expect to see their team in the playoffs every year. And I can’t think of a better compliment for a manager.

Still, though, there is a bigger compliment to be paid, and it’s to the lessons you taught your players (and us fans) about life: Do simple better, try not to suck, don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure (though I admit the pressure got to me many times in the 2016 postseason). Sure, I didn’t agree with every move you made (I’m still not sure, for example, why Lester was brought in from the bullpen in the middle of the fifth inning in Game 7), but I knew you were doing everything possible in that particular moment to win that particular game.

Winning baseball games is hard, Cubs fans have known that for over 100 years. But for a stretch, under your guidance, it looked easy. And maybe now after a little adversity we can look back at your time with a different perspective. We always want our team to win more titles, but we should cherish the one you brought us, because we had been told all our lives we would never even have that one.

So from every fan who went through the turnstiles to see you at Wrigley Field, thank you.

From every person who watched from their couch or followed their favorite team across the country to cheer them on, thank you.

From everyone who filled Grant Park on that beautiful Friday afternoon in November of 2016, thank you.

And especially from those who weren’t around to witness it in person, but somehow, somewhere, knew their faith in the Cubs would one day be rewarded, thank you.

I wish you success wherever you go and will be cheering you on – except, of course, when you face the Cubs. I’m sure you understand.


A die-hard Cubs Fan


Let’s get together soon and have a shot and a beer… That’s the Hazleton way.

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