Turn it off, and then turn it back on. It usually works.
No matter how advanced and complicated our devices have become, the advice from our IT managers, customer service representatives and electronics salespeople is almost always as simple as that, before even trying to figure out what else could be wrong.
It’s the best bet for my smartphone, any of our satellite receivers, and the oft-troubled basement computer the kids use for homework and music downloads and watching videos — just power it off and let it chill out for a while. I have no idea what voodoo fixes things, but it does.
It’s what I keep thinking about when watching the Cubs continue to write history this season, an unprecedentedly youthful team seemingly sprung from nowhere and utterly unburdened by a franchise’s miserable past. Too young to care, too happy to worry and too smart to waste time with folklore, they are a new and formidable thing.
This was a full reboot, now powered up.
The analogy works not only because the front office, run by president Theo Epstein, is notably data-driven, but because nearly every aspect of the organization was allowed to regenerate.
The Ricketts family purchased the team with designs on modernizing and monetizing Wrigley Field, and the fortuitous availability of Epstein cemented the decision to model their future on the successful Boston plan.
It took time to go dormant on the big-league part of the baseball side, concentrating resources on drafting and development. They collected high picks while gaming the international talent market to help restock the minor leagues, constantly churning their roster to flip found value to contenders for more prospects. They spent millions of dollars to build a modern scouting operation from the ground up.
Just as a computer gets slow and sclerotic when cluttered over time, so too did this organization with its ways of doing business. They needed to delete the equivalent of useless temporary internet files and cookies and fix registry errors. They ran a defragmentation program on the hard drive, and installed the newest operating system.
Even the hardware is improved, with the park itself expanded after the first phase of Wrigley remodeling. There’s more capacity in the stands, and two giant, shiny new HD monitors to provide better visuals. Even the pesky rooftop businesses have been cleaned out like so much malware, using the removal tools of persistence and legal muscle.
The Cubs are processing at full speed now, their system on auto-update.
We throw away old equipment and shake our heads at how recently it once seemed new, those bulky desktop towers and cathode-ray tubes poking out from garbage bins. That’s Tribune ownership, Lou Piniella and a WGN Radio contract out in the alley now, waiting to be hauled to a landfill.
Most importantly, the Cubs’ institutional memory has been upgraded in a way that is more concerned now about future than past, protected from the viruses of schmaltzy nostalgia and irrational fear. Whatever of that was still stored in the capacitors can continue to be stripped away over time, more with every next victory.
This is all up and running, the old software wiped out and the reprogrammed codes going to work after starting over from square one. Corrupted files are gone, misbehaving processes ended.
The Cubs are a new machine, and it’s on.