The Cubs Will Win a World Series within 4 Years
I take pen to paper and fingers to keyboard now as a Cubs fan, yes, but as a sports fan more than anything else. I do this, because it is my firm belief that times are changing, that finally, after years and decades and a century of waiting, 1908 will no longer be the last date in the Cubs’ record books when it comes to a World Series title. And I believe this, because I have seen with my own two eyes how a team with destiny on the horizon and a fire in its stomach can transcend even the bleakest of expectations.
The Cubs will win the World Series within four years. There it is. Last year, I wrote that it would take five years for the Cubs to break the streak; in the name of consistency and the purest form of excitement I can imagine, I’m keeping with that timeline. And it’s not a crazy belief in the slightest.
You see, when I predicted such success for the Cubs last year, it wouldn’t have surprised me for a second if anyone who heard it turned, laughed right in my face, and told me I was banking on a dream that would never come to pass. Because a year ago, the Cubs were nowhere near being contenders. In the 2014 season they won 73 against 89 losses, good enough for last place in the weakest division in the National League. The year before that, they lost 96 games.
Despite this backdrop, I just couldn’t ignore the potential hiding just below the surface, right under the noses of baseball fans everywhere. Before any of them were proven, I hoped against hope that Kris Bryant and Addison Russell would be the phenoms we were promised. I hoped Javier Baez and Jorge Soler would find out how to play in the Major Leagues. And I wondered, mostly, how far Jake Arrieta would come, and who could guide the ship to the promised land.
This past season, all of that was answered and more. Let’s start first with the phenoms. After some ups and downs, Jorge Soler found his niche and hit .262 during the regular season. He also broke a record by reaching base in the first nine postseason at-bats of his career. He did all of this while sending baseballs off his bat like torpedoes, regularly ripping hits at speeds over 100 MPH. Javier Baez spent a good chunk of the season back in Triple-A, but he came up big when it mattered, smashing two home runs and playing a pivotal role in a series victory over the Cardinals.
Baez did that while subbing for Addison Russell, who was out with a hamstring injury. And while Russell struggled at times, he hit .242 with 13 home runs and made some of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen at second and shortstop.
Beyond those three was a baby-faced, barrel-chested, country strong behemoth named Kyle Schwarber. As soon as this man walked onto the field wearing a Cubs uniform, fans knew he was going to be a spectacle, and boy was he. In only 69 games, Schwarber hit .246 with 16 home runs and 43 RBIs. What was perhaps most impressive was his ability to hit with power to all sides of the field. That might be what makes the catcher-turned-outfielder one of the most feared bats in the league. That, and the moonshot he hit onto the right field scoreboard at Wrigley. After only one trip to the postseason, Schwarber is already the Cubs’ all time postseason home run leader with five of them. What more can he do? I can’t wait to find out.
There’s one last name to mention when it comes to the rookies. And that name is Kris Bryant. Throughout the season he established himself, along with bona-fide team captain Anthony Rizzo, as one of the top two hitters on a team full of them. Bryant reaped the rewards for that production, taking home a Rookie of the Year award that was much deserved. Expect more accolades in his future.
So those guys panned out pretty well. But how about those other guys I mentioned earlier? How about NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who posted the best second half to a baseball season that anyone has ever seen? After being a pleasant surprise in 2014, Arrieta became the most feared man in the world with a baseball in 2015, leading the league in wins with a 22-6 record, an ERA of 1.77, and a strikeout to walk ratio of almost 5:1. The numbers don’t even capture it all. Now with a no-hitter and a Cy Young to his belt, Arrieta looks like the anchor for a starting rotation that could be about to get much, much better.
And finally, the man who would steer the ship. There was a bit of controversy surrounding zen master Joe Maddon’s putting on a Cub uniform, but he brought with him an air of coolness and confidence that the young Cubbies took to heart. With the mantra, “Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure,” Joe Mo got the boys in blue to play with a calmness and levity that would make you think they were playing backyard wiffleball, if you didn’t know any better. That must have been just what they needed too; all these factors came together to put the Cubs at a record of 97-65, good for third in the best division in baseball, and third overall in the Majors. The Cubs vanquished the only two teams with a better record, the Pirates and Cardinals, in stunning fashion during the postseason before running out of gas against a stifling Mets pitching rotation.
Those 97 wins seemingly came out of nowhere, didn’t they? But they make me seem like a prognosticator supreme, so you won’t hear me complaining. A year or two early, this team got close to history. They’re only getting closer. It’s expected that the Cubs will add someone like David Price to a starting rotation that already boasts Arrieta and Jon Lester. And the young guys are growing into perhaps the most dangerous lineup in baseball. This is a unit that could add an air of destiny to Eddie Vedder’s words, “Some day they’ll go all the way.”
Someday, someday. And someday is soon.