Is It Time To Rethink The Sobey Art Award���s Age Limit?

I went to a three day professional development session about a year and a half ago, and one of the things that we spent time working on was the idea of reframing. This idea is derived from origins in a 1960s psychological approach to depression in which patients were taught and encouraged to rethink negative thoughts into a more positive frame, to put it simply for the sake of the argument I'd like to make here. It's something that most of us do naturally the majority of the time, but it's something someone who struggles with a mental illness like depression would need help with. We used it in that professional development for the purpose of reframing our attitudes about our struggles in some of the work that we had done in the classroom in years past and then to work on how to encourage our students to adopt a similar attitude in their lives. In other words, to learn the basic attitude of, "I didn't get it right before, but I'll get it next time." Or at some point in the future, provided you keep pushing yourself and trying new things. The point is, you don't assume something will fail simply because it has before. It should go without saying that when you are unsuccessful in an attempt, you revise your thinking or your approach and try again, rather than just keep trying the same method, and there's a good chance that eventually you'll get it right.

Why, then, we are still subjected to pieces of writing like what appeared in the Chicago Tribune a few days ago, I am not sure I will ever understand. Of course, I am sure there are many dynamics that lead to Bernie Lincicome being given the space for such drivel, but ultimately it just strikes me as lazy. I'll get into that more later, but I feel compelled to say first that this is not a criticism of the Tribune per se, but rather the desire of many of Lincicome's ilk to keep plodding through the same, tired narrative. You know, the one where they refuse to adopt anything other than a derisive tone toward the Cubs when they're down and a condescending one when they're doing well. I actually used this slop from Lincicome at the beginning of the school year this past September to teach tone to my 9th graders, simply because it provided such a glaringly obvious example. Maybe I'm being too hard on Bernie, but I'll include a few of his words from his latest directly:

It is a different world now for baseball's favorite house pets, those harmless and inevitably accommodating darlings. Purr, purr, nice cubby.

Oddly, the earliest and loudest shot comes from a cartoon candidate for president, not thatDonald Trump's pouty little caution to the Ricketts family had anything to do with baseball, but then so often the Cubs have little to do with baseball.

If you look around the Trump reference, you'll see just a bit of what I mean. The problem I have with it is not so much even his tone toward the Cubs, because his disdain strikes me as well documented by now, but rather with the whole premise of his approach to this season, and really, the Cubs at any point going forward. He's not the only one either, and I'm just using Lincicome as an example of a larger problem. That's the one of the assumption that past failures somehow have any bearing on the season that lies ahead of us. I addressed this here in a bit of a different way a while ago, but there's a problem when we take this approach:

Of the six playoff Cubs teams (excluding last year's) since the last Cub pennant, only one repeated, that ill-fated '08 bunch. The '84, '89 and '98 teams followed with losing seasons.

Though the teams of '07 and '08 were patched together for short success and not built for the long game like this one, the last time the Cubs won 97 games they fell off to 83 the next season and followed that with five straight losing seasons.

Lincicome even says he doesn't want to be "the one who holds the giant watering can over the approaching parade, " but can't help himself and do it anyway. He certainly makes some fair points and tips his cap to the improvements that the Cubs have made since the 2015 season ended, but not without dousing it all at the very end. It just strikes me as a lazy approach to what is happening with this organization. Sure, they've improved the roster after a successful season last year, but remember 1985 and 2004? The trouble with looking at the Cubs this way is that it is not in sync with the approach we would encourage others to make toward nearly any other situation. Scientifically, it's probably laughable. Think objectively for a moment about the notion that somehow the fact that the 1985 Cubs were not successful following a great 1984 campaign has any bearing whatsoever on what will happen in 2016. Again, in nearly any other context we'd call this thinking absurd. This is practically a different franchise that we're watching now.

Thankfully there are voices out there like Laurence Holmes (check out what he wrote during the playoffs last fall), and his thinking more closely matches mine when it comes to the Cubs as we go into 2016, but that doesn't mean that we won't still hear from those who seem almost to approach the Cubs as if their failures are the product of an actual curse rather than just decades of horrible ownership, bad management, and almost nonexistent player development (Read Peter Golenbock's book, "Wrigleyville: A Magical History Tour" if you haven't already - it was enlightening for me).

I fully expect that until the Cubs do win the World Series, this narrative won't go away. There were hints at changes to this mentality during the final weeks of the regular season and playoffs last year, but a World Series is ultimately probably what it's going to take, and that's fine. In the meantime, we will just keep reframing the narrative when it comes to this team because we know a good thing when we see it coming. In closing, I think Golenbock put my philosophy about the Cubs of 2016 or any year really nicely, so I'll let him have the last word:

From childhood forward, things happen to us, good and bad, but nothing bad has ever happened to us at a baseball game, even when our favorite player makes an error and the team loses a pennant on the final day of the season. This is especially true of Cubs fans, the purest truest fans in America. Cubs fans have a Jobian view of life. Yes, Job was a Cubs fan. Didn't Job ask, 'Why are you doing this to me, God?' Isn't this the refrain of all Cubs fans?

For Cubs fans, there are no bad Cubs ballplayers, only players trying to become more proficient; there are no bad Cubs teams, only teams that promise success in the future.

Cubs fans love the Cubs, warts and all, no questions asked. This quality is called faith.


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