The Chicago Cubs are headed back to the postseason for the second consecutive season. After winning the Wild Card last year and now clinching the division, things are looking great for this club. But it’s not going to stop most fans from thinking the worst.
Last night was pretty rough when it came to falling asleep. Tossing and turning for a few hours resulted in me picking up my phone and opening the ESPN app. Checking through the standings, and the magic number for the Chicago Cubs to clinch home field advantage.
That’s when I stumbled upon a Scott Van Pelt video. A video that had one of ESPN’s seasoned journalists discussing our team. All eyes are on the Chicago Cubs right now and will continue to be on them throughout the postseason.
The clip was only about three minutes long but it had me thinking. In fact, my mind would not stop racing after asking myself the same question that Van Pelt would ask himself. That is if, by what he said, the Chicago Cubs were his team.
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What if? Something that we have all asked ourselves at some point in our lives. No matter the situation, it has crossed our minds.
And if it hasn’t, you’re absolutely lying to yourself. Don’t do that, it’s bad, really bad. Anyways.
When trying to figure out the answer to that question myself, I understood what Van Pelt was talking about when he mentioned that Cubs fans will come up with different scenarios in which the Cubs would fall.
We’re all guilty of this, but enough is enough. Let’s look back at the 2008 Chicago Cubs who clinched the N.L. Central from the St. Louis Cardinals.
In addition to this note, skipper Joe Maddon made a World Series appearance with the Tampa Bay Rays that year against the Philadelphia Phillies. Granted, his Rays eventually crumbled to Ryan Howard and those powerful (at the time) Phillies.
Before the postseason, Maddon led the Rays to a 97-65 season. Right now, the Cubs are at 94 wins with hopes of clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. At least until the World Series.
Meanwhile, the 2008 Cubs finished with the same amount of wins as Joe’s club but had only 64 losses. As a result, the Cubs were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 and were outscored 20-8.
It’s not going to be that way this time around. This Chicago Cubs team is a whole lot better compared to the one that took the field against the Dodgers in October of 2008. No disrespect to Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano, or even Derrek Lee.
Same Club, Younger Faces
Take both rosters and compare the two. Addison Russell, a powerful shortstop who is putting up eye-popping numbers for his position and not to mention, his fellow teammates. Guys such as Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras, and even Jason Heyward.
Sure, Heyward started off a little slow with the bat but do you remember how he performed against the Cubs during the division series? It felt like that guy was always on base, giving Chicago’s pitching staff a rough time on the mound.
In 2008, Geovany Soto emerged as the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Fast forward seven years where Bryant took the league by storm and became the first Cub since Soto to earn that title.
Just a year later and Kris appears to be the favorite to win National League MVP. Only a few players in Major League Baseball history have gone from winning Rookie of the Year and MVP in back-to-back seasons. For instance, Cal Ripken Jr., Dustin Pedroia, and Ryan Howard are the only three to do so.
We’ll be adding Kris Bryant to that list in a little under a month. Now, remember, this club has a few veterans who won a World Series, most recently, Ben Zobrist who was a key piece of Kansas City’s title run.
Mix those veterans in with a group of young guys who teed off against the Cardinals last October and you have a recipe for a World Series title. So when it comes to answering the question of, “What If?” — there is no real right answer, just genuine feelings when the time comes.
Tears, hugs, kisses, handshakes, champagne, etc. We will celebrate for those loved ones who were unable to witness this club reach the promise land. Even those who represented this organization but were unable to accomplish this feat themselves.
IT IS going to happen.