— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 8, 2016
“Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.”
We’ve heard it so many times: live in the moment, carpe diem, yada, yada, yada. But how the hell am I supposed to do that when the Cubs have won their first three games of the year in such convincing fashion?
After hearing “Wait till next year,” year after year, how am I supposed to watch this team win and not think that this is the year?
The Cubs are coming off an NLCS appearance after all. They have been deemed the favorite to win the World Series by major publications, and more importantly, Vegas.
How am I supposed to heed Albert’s advice and live without one eye on the future, on the champagne toast and victory parade in Chicago? We’re all thinking it, right? Even if we are too scared to say it out loud.
Manage expectations. Why as a fan should I? For the same reason that the Cubs players and coaches have to — because expectations corrupt.
If I don’t manage my expectations as a fan, if I ride the roller coaster of joy and despair after every game, nobody will suffer except me — oh, and my friends, and wife, probably my kids. But the Cubs will win or lose regardless.
If the Cubs don’t manage expectations, however, the whole thing can fall apart.
“The process is fearless, because I don’t want to spend time on the outcome,” Joe Maddon said recently. “For me, it’s really about staying in the moment and not worrying about the outcome of the game or managing toward the outcome. It doesn’t do anybody any good.”
It’s just a game. That’s what he’s saying. Just play the game. It’s like having a catch in the backyard. Watch the ball sail through the air, feel it snap into the glove. The laces, the grip, the movement, whoosh.
“At this time of the year, with me and the players, we’re going to be process-oriented, pitch by pitch,” Maddon said. “That’s the one that really gets you to the promised land. ‘The process is fearless,’ to me, is about that the process lacks emotion. And if you can keep emotion out of there, just go out there and play, avoid the ups and the downs, that’s your best chance to come back late, it’s your best chance to hold on to something late. That’s the part we try to get across to them.”
One of Maddon’s primary jobs this season will be to make sure that expectations do not corrupt this season, that they don’t sneak into the mindset of players and change how they play the game. Because it looks like if this team just lets itself play, lets its talent flow pitch by pitch, success will follow.
I’d like to try something similar as a fan — enjoy how these players hit and throw and catch, how they compete, how they make the most of each moment on the field. Forget the future, damn the past.
Let’s just play ball. When is game time?