Laugh At The Cubs And The Cubs Laugh With You

May 15, 2012 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

LaHair is no longer allowed to 'raise the roof'
Without going into the specifics of why I loved a movie that many people didn't see, I'll just say I was a fan of 2011's Real Steel and leave it at that. Yes, it's basically just Rock-'Em, Sock-'Em Robots: The Movie. Yes, it's just as hard to get emotionally invested in as Rocky would have been if Rocky was a giant robot that couldn't feel pain.

The reason Real Steel was great was Hugh Jackman's performance. While not winning any Oscars (unfortunately), Jackman was completely committed to the role and sold the hell out of it, which is impressive considering he was acting alongside what was basically a bunch of toasters. And just being 100% committed to a silly role isn't the key to success (just ask Leo DiCaprio after J. Edgar).

What made the performance great was that the whole time, you could tell that Hugh Jackman was in on the joke with us. He knew how batshit ridiculous the concept of training boxing robots was, and you could tell that he had an attitude of "Eh, why not? Could be fun, right?" throughout the entire movie.

That's exactly the kind of feeling I'm getting from the Cubs and their recent play as of late.

This isn't like the 2007 - 2009 Cubs, who fell apart under the weight of expectation, either in the playoffs or just before. There's no delusion here. Everyone, from the fans to the players to the front office knew coming in that 2012 was going to be a full-on wash of a year. Year One of a new rebuilding project always is. And I think the team is playing better because of it.

If Bryan LaHair had come up a few years back and been expected to mash from day one like Hee Seop Choi or Micah Hoffpauer, would he have done nearly as good as he is so far in 2012? Who knows? But there's a chance he wouldn't. Cubs players don't handle the pressure of expectation to well.

But so far in 2012, players like LaHair and Campana know that they're playing with house money, and I think it's letting everyone play relaxed and loose. By no means are the Cubs a threat to win the division, but they've played some really great baseball against division leaders over the last few weeks and that's...well, that's something right?

2012 is shaping up to be a lot better than I expected so far on the North Side. Sometimes being in on the joke, even if you are the joke, is a lot more entertaining.