Willson Contreras got the Cubs started with a one-out single in the 1st inning of Tuesday’s win, then he came around to score two batters later on an Ian Happ double. Those two were then the last players in the dugout as the strains of “Go Cubs, Go” echoed through Wrigley Field, embracing each other for what could be the last time as teammates.
Willson Contreras and Ian Happ embrace after today's Cubs win. pic.twitter.com/sR4L8KT2P1
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 26, 2022
“We’ve played together for a long time and being able to be out there for him and give him a hug, those are special moments that you don’t really forget,” Happ said.
Contreras admitted Monday that the rumors had finally started to get to him lately, and that was evident Tuesday as he saluted the fans who gave him a standing ovation in each at-bat. Though he talked during the All-Star festivities about feeling like he might not be done wearing the Cubs uniform, it’s become all too clear that he won’t be returning to Wrigley for a home game this year.
“I love how the fans embrace myself and how much they love me,” Contreras said. “That makes me feel good. It makes me feel that, if I have to walk away from this team, I can walk away with my head up high, because I know I did everything I could to make this team better from Day 1.”
Happ has likewise been involved in trade reports and the team has been trying to move him for a while now as he continues to perform at a high level. Knowing he might not be able to revel in that postgame W serenade had him feeling wistful.
“There’s nothing quite like a W at Wrigley Field after that song plays and you see the W flags around and the people stay and enjoy it,” Happ told reporters. “I wanted to be out there and take that in.”
You wouldn’t be wrong if you said these are the kinds of moves a team like the Cubs should make given their competitive position and inflection point between limited contractual control and high trade value of the players in question. The problem is that these are the kinds of moves a team like the Cubs should never have to make because rebuilding twice in a decade is nothing short of a farce.
Apply to that whatever context you like — failure to develop pitching, poor roster construction post-2016, bungled TV network — but the fact of the matter is that a franchise in the third-largest market charging some of MLB’s highest prices can’t keep doing this. They can’t keep ripping fans’ still-beating hearts out of their chests and then offering to sell them a synthetic pump with a corporate logo to make up for the inconvenience.
So if you still have any emotional pain left to spare on this team, and too damn many of us apparently do, you’d better hope like hell that they are able to execute on their unspoken plan to fix this thing. Because as things currently stand, the fallout from their nebulous blueprint feels pretty shitty.