Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Mason: Big expectations, bigger letdowns

Well, it’s going to be a quiet October along I-94.

The Cubs have been swept by the Dodgers, and the Brewers didn’t fare much better, losing in four games to the Phillies. For their respective fans, this weekend probably couldn’t have gotten much worse — especially if they’re Badger and Packer fans, too.

I sometimes joke when talking about sports that it’s best to set the bar low. That way, it’s easier to jump over.


But in all honesty, both the Cubs and the Brewers had set the bar so high, they couldn’t even see it from where they were standing.

A lot was made of this being the first time in 26 seasons that Milwaukee found itself in the postseason. The last time the Brewers were playing in October, they were members of the American League East — and former manager Ned Yost was in his third season as a catcher for the Crew.

So with much frustration built up over the last 2 1/2 decades, it was no surprise that fans and players alike had high hopes — and plenty of optimism — to go around after earning a playoff spot on the final game of the season.

A few hours south, the Cubs put together their best regular-season record since 1945, which ironically was the last time they made it to the World Series. With a 97-64 mark, the North Siders ran away with the NL Central title and finished with baseball’s second-best record behind the Angels.

This had to be their year to win it all: It marks the 100-year anniversary of the last time they won baseball’s Fall Classic. Destiny was on their side; as long as they avoided any and all curses, they’d be popping champagne in no time.

Clearly for the Cubbies, anything short of a World Series trophy in 2008 would be a disappointment. But after they fell flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers twice at Wrigley Field to open the series, you could hear a collective “not again” being uttered by the Bleacher Bums all the way from Madison.

They had no curses to blame. No Bartmans to point fingers at. Simply put, the Cubs just flat out didn’t come to play.

Maybe it’s better to enter a season with little to no expectations. That may sound ludicrous, but hear me out.

The Minnesota Twins were projected by almost no one to find success in the AL Central this year. They lost their two biggest assets — Cy Young pitcher Johan Santana and Gold Glove centerfielder Torii Hunter — in the offseason and were left with a young and inexperienced pitching staff.

But a bunch of nobodies — guys like Denard Span, Kevin Slowey and Alexi Casilla (Ever heard of ’em before this year? Didn’t think so.) — propelled the Twins to a surprising 88-74 mark, tied with the White Sox for tops in the division. While they missed the playoffs by losing in a one-game tiebreaker to the Chicago White Sox, they went far and beyond any bets placed on them at the season’s start.

Just as impressive — if not more unlikely — of a story this year was the Tampa Bay Rays. They finished with baseball’s worst record a year ago at 66-96. When you’re 30 games under .500, how could you possibly expect anything but another long season at Tropicana Field?

Like the Twins, though, the Rays overachieved. They won the AL East. They won 31 more games than they did a year ago. And best of all, they did so without anyone thinking they would (or could).

Sure, it might seem like a pessimistic attitude to have: expect the worst. But when you set your expectations low enough, anything more than complete and utter failure is a pleasant surprise.

Trust me. As a fan of Minnesota sports, I’ve had to take this attitude my entire life.

It’s likely going to be a rebuilding year in Milwaukee, as CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets and possibly Prince Fielder could all be donning different uniforms next year.

And Cubs fans, your team may still have a talented roster and high payroll. But at Wrigley, wherever there’s a will to choke, there’s a way.

Just tell yourself next season: “The (insert your team name here) will not do well this year.” Then, when they win the World Series, the champagne will taste that much better.

Tyler is a senior majoring in journalism. Not a fan of his “set the bar low” attitude? Let him know at [email protected].

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