In Space Between Seasons, Everyone Can Hear You Scream

The human mind is calibrated to operate under a constant barrage of sound and activity, so much so that the absence of sound can cause temporary insanity. Devoid of sensory input, the mind will actually produce hallucinations in order to cope. That’s why no one has been able to spend more than 45 minutes inside the Orfield Laboratory’s anechoic chamber, certified as the “quietest place on earth” at -9.4 decibels.

Well gosh, if I didn’t know better I’d say that sounded an awful lot what’s going on in Cubdom. The paucity of moves this winter has led to all manner of conjecture heading in every different direction. Theo Epstein is either orchestrating the most subversive long con of his career or his abject failure has doomed yet another organization. The Cubs were either a 95-win team that could improve with good health or they were a tire fire and win totals are irrelevant.

It’s easy to see how, left to their own devices absent any benchmarks to guide them, interested observers could quickly reach the point where they are able to hear their own heartbeat. And after more than two months of this quiet offseason, some folks are claiming they can hear Epstein’s thoughts even more clearly than the words he’s spoken repeatedly.

Although given the oft-stated budget constraints under which the Cubs are operating, it might be better to hear what Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney are thinking. That chance may come in a couple weeks at Cubs Convention, but we will likely have further silence prior to that. All the more time for thoughts to run wild.

“If [fans] wanna be really focused on the offseason and have big expectations for big names, that’s absolutely their right and I totally get that,” Epstein told 670 The Score Saturday. “And it can be fun, following every move or non-move in the offseason and being critical.”

I have a different definition of “fun,” but it’s become very clear that some people really do enjoy engaging in unrelenting criticism. And if that’s your steez, have at it. Don’t expect me to compliment you on how it looks, but like Joe Maddon said: “If you look hot, wear it.”

As for me, I’m at about minute 44 in the anechoic chamber and I’m itching to make like Vince McMahon’s business and get the F out. The air is stale and I’m starting to imagine dragons even worse than the college football championship halftime show. And hey, is that Weezy?

Every winter brings a measure of restless anxiousness, but this time around it’s more about wanting the offseason to end than it is wanting the new season to begin. Six one way and half a dozen the other, I guess, it’s just that we’re already well past the point where anything is better than now. The grass is definitely greener on the other side. Which is different from the hopeful anticipation of what is sure to be another successful campaign.

And if Epstein’s recent comments can be taken at face value, which I have every reason to believe they should be, he’s in that same mindspace.

“I think ultimately, once you start playing there’s a natural exhale and a return to focusing on the games and on trying to win and that’s what becomes most important again,” Epstein said. “So I think once we start playing again there’ll be a return to the focus on the field, which is a sort of more healthy state for everybody.”

When he says “everybody,” he’s not just talking about fans. Epstein’s phone was buzzing constantly during the 20-minute interview, indicating that he’s working tirelessly to make something, anything, happen this winter. That isn’t to say the wheels have fallen off, but it may means a cavalcade of reclamation projects like Colin Rea. If, that is, you buy the most recent reports that the Cubs can’t even sign someone like Adam Warren without moving money first.

If that’s truly the case, well, all the improvement from within stuff had better work out in a hella big way because not having $4 million to supplement the bullpen is on some total BS. And maybe the possibility for something big still exists. Despite talk about having to find room to make even small pieces fit and working with little to know budget buffer, Epstein has repeatedly refused to shut doors.

“But for this winter, I’m not gonna tell them what to expect or what not to expect,” he offered. “Anything is possible.”

Of course, that also means nothing is possible. Or rather, it’s possible they do nothing. Boy, won’t that make for a fun time between CubsCon and the start of spring training.

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