Monday, March 25, 2013

A difference in fan bases: Cubs vs. Bears

Last week, the Bears cut ties with Brian Urlacher.  Urlacher had been a constant face of the franchise for the past 13 seasons.  He felt he could still contribute.  The Bears felt, even if he could contribute, it wasn't in their best interest to keep him around.  (Yes, the Bears did make a low-ball offer, but it was more of an insult than an offer.)

One thing that struck me about the situation with Urlacher...a majority of the fans felt it was the right move to let Urlacher go.  Only a small minority of people were up in arms about the future Hall of Famer potentially playing in another uniform...or even just retiring.  The Bears are transitioning to a new system. They have a new coach and defensive coordinator.  It felt like it was a good time for a fresh start and Urlacher probably didn't fit in to the plans. let me transport you back to 14 month ago.

The Cubs had just completed an overhaul of their on-field and off-field management personnel.  Theo Epstein took over and Dale Sveum was named manager.  The Cubs introduce an almost entirely new coaching staff in the process.  In those early days of January, Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein were in the process of putting together the Cubs roster and one name continued to be brought up in relation to that...Kerry Wood.

Wood was coming off of a decent season as a setup man having signed with the Cubs for practically free as he desperately wanted to rejoin the Cubs.  Questions posed to Hoyer and Epstein about Kerry Wood's situation were answered with some of the similar phrases that we recently heard from Bears GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman...he's the heart of this franchise...he has been a great leader...has something to to see him retire with this team...they're in discussions to bring him back.

The Cubs decided to bring back Wood.

So why did the Cubs bring back Wood and the Bears decided not to bring back Urlacher while both teams were in such similar situations?

Well, it can be said that it was different with football...Urlacher was (and probably still will be) a starter...the Bears are still trying to field a competitive team next year while the Cubs were completely rebuilding...

In the end, though, it really seems to me that the only reason the Cubs brought Kerry Wood back last year was because the fans demanded it.  Wood served very little purpose being on a roster that was being completely rebuilt last year...and after only a month, even Wood realized he had no place on that team and retired.

Bears fans decided that Brian Urlacher, a future Hall-of-Fame inductee, was not needed on their team and were able to accept him either retiring or playing for another team.

Cubs fans felt that Kerry Wood, a player who never lived up to the hype that surrounded his early career, must return.

Please take a minute and have that soak in a bit.

Can you imagine the situation if Bears fans had demanded Urlacher return?  They'd have a broken down middle linebacker giving up big plays in the middle of the field hurting their team.  Yet Cubs fans demanded the Cubs sending an on-the-verge-of-his-arm-flying-off Kerry Wood to the mound every 3 days to promptly give up a lead.

If the Cubs are to actually break this cycle of losing, it is thinking like this that needs to stop.  The fans can be partly to blame for the state this team is in.  We, as fans, need to start looking at the big picture.  Tradition... sentimental feelings...these are things that distract from what should be our ultimate goal...winning the World Series.  And those feeling shouldn't be moved to the side only when we talk about players.  It also applies to the place where the team plays as well.