On Tuesday, October 13, the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 in the fourth game of a best-of-five series. The Cubs are advancing to the NLCS for the first time in 12 years, and Salute‘s own Rohtas Wadera recapped the NLDS. Wadera’s article also shows why the Cubs are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. Going into the NLWC game, the Cubs had an eight-game winning streak and were 8-2 in their last ten games. As of their most recent game, Chicago is 9-1 in their last ten games — including regular season and postseason play — and are in the middle of a three-game winning streak.
The Cubs are playing like a team on a mission and the mission is a simple one to grasp — win the World Series. Accomplishing that mission…well that’s the hard part. They haven’t been to the World Series since 1945, where they lost to the Detroit Tigers four-games to three, according to baseball-reference.com. The Cubs haven’t won the Fall Classic since 1908. As Chicago fans are fond of saying, it’s been a really bad last century for the Cubs, but that could change for them this year.
Here’s the evidence that I’m using for that statement — the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates seem to be some sort of good luck charm for the team that beats them in the early round of the postseason, at least for the past two years. In 2013, the Pirates faced off against the Cardinals in the NLDS. The Pirates dropped the series 3-2 and St. Louis went on to win the NL pennant and faced the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. The Cardinals then lost the World Series to Boston 4-2 that year.
In 2014, the San Francisco Giants destroyed the Pirates in the NLWC game 8-0. The Giants then beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 in the NLDS, and went on to beat the Cardinals 4-1 in the NLCS. The Giants then defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in the World Series.
The one thing that the 2013 Cardinals, 2014 Giants and 2015 Cubs have in common is that they all beat the Pirates in the early stages of the postseason. Maybe that’s the kick in the backside the Cubs need to shake all of those ghosts loose and allow them to play baseball the way they know how to play — the way that they are currently playing.
The Cubs have a long and rich history. Unfortunately, to the casual fan, they’re the team that suffers from being cursed. Whether it’s the “Curse of the Billy Goat” or the “Curse of Steve Bartman” — when he tried to snag a souvenir that would have put the Cubs one out closer to ending the inning in 2003. But those people are wrong — dead wrong, in fact. LiveScience wrote a great piece about the Cubs, and whether or not they’re cursed, in September 2010. The article’s author, Michael Avila, never answers the question. Phil Kadner in his column for the Chicago Tribune calls the Cubs the “Luckiest team in baseball.” Kadner, by his own admission, is a lifelong White Sox fan and uses this piece to point out just how lucky the Cubs — and Cubs fans — are, especially this season.
Let’s say, for the sake of starting a fight with the entire city of Chicago — which just for the record I want to say I love every part of you Chicago. From the Northside and Wrigley and the North Lakeshore to Geno’s downtown and the “Miracle Mile” for all the tourists who need to shop while they’re there, to the Southside and Midway Airport and the great little restaurant called Peaches and Pears on West Archer — that the Cubs win the World Series, what then?
Remember when the Red Sox blew it in 2003? One of the things that made the 2003 Red Sox different from the 2004 Red Sox was that in ’03 they had gone 85 years without winning a World Series. Then by the start of the 2005 season they were, in all reality, just another team. By winning the World Series in 2004 they lost the one thing that made them special — their World Series “curse.” They’ve won the World Series two more times since 2004 — bringing their total to eight total World Series wins according to baseball-reference.com. They’re still 19 behind their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, and they aren’t gaining any ground on them.
The Cubs have two World Series titles and your arch-rivals — the Cardinals — have 12, but at least you made sure that they aren’t winning one this year. The point of the comparison is this: If you win the World Series this season — after a 70-year absence and 107 years since your last title — will the Cubs still be considered special to the rest of the baseball watching public or will they be just another team?
It also happened to the other team in Chicago — the White Sox. They went 88 years without winning a World Series title. Sure, they had some postseason appearances in between 1917 and 2005 — hell they even went to the World Series twice and lost — but after 2005 they were no longer special. They no longer had a World Series drought associated with their name. Yes, the White Sox are held near and dear to their faithful, but they aren’t looked at in the same light without the drought.
So again, risking argument with one of my favorite cities in the country, let’s think this through to its logical conclusion. The Cubs win the NLCS and move on to the World Series. It will be their first appearance in the Fall Classic in 70 years. Emotions will be running high in the Cubbies clubhouse and dugout. There is a 50-50 chance that no matter who the American League team is that makes it to the World Series, the Cubs lose — that’s just the plain, honest truth.
Now here’s the fun part. Let’s say the Cubs win the World Series (C’mon everybody: The Cubs Win the World Series!). That win will end their drought that has gone on for one 107 years and it tried the hearts of many of the Cubbies Nation. Thursday, November 5, Chicago is still engulfed in a party that started after the last out of Game 7. It came down to Dexter Fowler going yard in the top of the ninth with two on and one out. Fowler’s three-run shot sealed the deal for the Cubs and clinched their first World Series title since 1908.
Wouldn’t that be a great lead in the Sports section of the Sun-Times or the Tribune?
But what about on May 9, 2016, when the Cubs are eight games back and Joe Madden isn’t the most popular guy on Chicago’s Northside, what then? Or what about after the All-Star break — when the Cubs are 15 games back and things have gone from bad to worse — will the Cubs still be special beyond the Northside of Chicago? Or what if the Cubs are up by 12 games by mid-June, will they still be special or will they be even more special? What if the Cubbies are up by 12.5 games in late August, after being up by as many as 15 earlier in the week, will they still be special then? What if, after all of that they fail to repeat, would you as a Cubs fan see them as special?
I think that the Cubs can win it all this year and break their curse. I hope that if they do win it all that people will continue to see them for what they are — one of the most storied teams in Major League Baseball.