Here are five reasons I’ll remember a largely forgettable 2020 Cubs season.
In case you forgot, the Chicago Cubs did win the NL Central division in 2020 with a record of 34-26. Yet it feels like it was a rough season, in part because the pandemic wiped out much of the season and those games we did get couldn’t include fans. Throw in the struggles of so many key players, the team’s abrupt postseason exit at the hands of the Miami Marlins and you see why so many folks feel less than great about the season.
Yet it’s always good to try to find the positives in every situation. As this awful year of 2020 is about to draw to a close, we can look back and at least try to find some good things that happened during an otherwise difficult year. Here are five things I’ll remember fondly from the 2020 season:
Going to spring training: There aren’t many fans who can say that they got to attend a Cubs game in 2020, but I can proudly say that I am one of them. Back in late February and early March, before everything was shut down, I had the pleasure of traveling to Arizona and attending several Cactus League games. It was a great trip, one that I’ll always treasure, especially when we consider that it was only for those couple of weeks at the start of spring training that fans were allowed to attend games all year.
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Kyle Hendricks dominating on Opening Day: Among all the players who struggled for the Cubs in 2020, Kyle Hendricks was not one of them. He had another great year, and that started with a dominant pitching performance on Opening Day at Wrigley Field against the Milwaukee Brewers. In that game, he went all nine innings, allowing just three hits while walking none and striking out nine.
Yet it was important for more reasons than that. We had to wait nearly four months extra this year for baseball to arrive amidst a difficult pandemic. When it did arrive again, it felt like a victory, that a sense of normalcy was coming back. Of course, there’s still a ways to go before we’re back to normal, but it was a victory nonetheless.
The dominant pitching of Yu Darvish: Coming off a strong second half of 2019, Yu Darvish picked up where he left off, posting a dominant 2.01 ERA in 12 starts, which led to him finishing second in NL Cy Young Award voting. It was one of the best pitching performances we have seen in years – Jake Arrieta’s unbelievable 2015 season notwithstanding.
The Alec Mills no-hitter: Alec Mills may be one of the most unlikely pitchers to throw a no-hitter this season, though he did exactly that on September 13 in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Mills won a job as the team’s fifth starter coming out of the gate this year, and for the most part, he was pretty good for the team. Hopefully he can build on the success he had this year and continue to be a force for the Cubs in 2021.
The team did win the division: For all the difficulties I mentioned above, the team did still win the division. It was a weak division, and the team rode a hot first couple of weeks of the season, playing mediocre baseball the rest of the way. Between that and the forgettable two games against the Marlins that ended their season, a lot of Cubs fans won’t remember the 2020 campaign that fondly. But winning the division is an accomplishment; no matter what the team does in response to that difficult end, it’s something to be thankful for.