October 4, 2015

SCAZZERO | The Cubs Are Still in It

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Earlier this year, I wrote a column on how the Mets have been having a record breaking and whirlwind year. Today, I am writing about another team that is poised to have another landmark year, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are my hometown team and though I have not followed them religiously, it is almost impossible to ignore the reputation the Cubs have in the Major Leagues. Their miserable luck for the past 100-plus years is infamous. The TV show Scrubs had a killer line in illustrating the agony of being a Cubs fan with, “How depressing is it being you? Would you equate it to being a lifelong Cubs fan, or being born without lips?”

The Cubs have not won a championship in so long that there is even a legend of the curse of the billy goat, allegedly placed on the Cubs in 1945. The whole thing started when Billy Goat Tavern (a popular burger chain in the Chicago area) owner Billy Sianis brought his goat to a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field and was asked to leave because the goat’s smell was bothering the fans. Outraged that he was being kicked out, he (allegedly) declared, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” which, to this day, has been interpreted as that there will never again be a World Series game won at Wrigley Field. There is no way of proving if this is the reason the Cubs have become universally known for their poor luck and lack of championships, but the fact remains that the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908.

All of this notoriety and years of disappointment may wear down the average fan, but Cubs fans are dedicated and patient, always waiting and saying, “This year is our year!” (I cannot count the amount of times my diehard friends say this to only inevitably be let down). However, this year that statement might actually hold some weight. The Cubs are not in their expected last place. They’re proudly holding a third place spot in the Central Division of the National League and they clinched the wild-card spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who they play this Wednesday. This year, the Cubs are not their usual source of misery, but hope.

A big part of what has brought the Cubs out of their century-long slump is their fresh young roster, with the likes of pitcher Jake Arrieta and hitter Kris Bryant. Arrieta is the first pitcher in the majors to have 20 wins this season and is the fifth Cubs pitcher in the past 100 years to be the first to 20 wins in all of baseball. He currently leads the MLB with 22. In his last regular season game, he threw six shutout innings in the Cubs’ 6-1 victory at Miller Park. It was his 20th quality start and he is the first Cubs qualifying pitcher to finish with a sub-2.00 ERA since player Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1920. Additionally, he is rumored to possibly clinch the Cy Young Award, the award given to the best pitchers in both the American and National Leagues. Yet, he’s not the only Cubs player making a splash this year nor the only one possibly up for an award.

Hitter Kris Bryant has been another prominent player this season for the Cubs and his stats put him in a great position to be considered for the National League Rookie of the Year. He entered the final weekend of regular season leading all Major League rookies with home runs (26), RBIs (99), on-base percentage (.369), slugging percentage (.495) and runs scored (86). The No. 2 overall draft in 2013 from the University of San Diego certainly has been a big factor in the turnaround for the Cubs with his impressive rookie season.

Overall, the Cubs’ chances don’t look dismal this year and it would be exciting to see everyone’s (or most people’s) favorite underdogs have a sustained run during the 2015 MLB Playoffs. So, as those die-hard cubs fans would say, this year is (possibly) their year!