Chasing Destiny: The Chicago Cubs and their Journey to End a 108-year Drought

Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop celebrates the third out in the eighth inning on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Cubs won, 5-0.

Jacob Jardel
Voices Editor

The Major League Baseball playoffs could be one to remember. Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is playing in his final postseason, while the San Francisco Giants are vying for their fourth title since 2010. The Indians could help turn Cleveland into Title Town, USA, if the team wins its first title since 1948.

But arguably the biggest of these storylines is the Chicago Cubs.

The North Siders entered the playoffs with the Major League’s best record at 103-58, winning the National League Central division by 17 ½ games. They scored the third-most runs of any team and maintained the best earned run average in the majors. In short, the Cubs are poised to make a World Series run.

If they happened to win, though, it would mean more than just brining a trophy to Wrigley Field for its 100th Anniversary.

The Chicago Cubs last won a championship in 1908. Put in perspective, the Ottoman Empire would not end for another 14 years. Both the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union would rise and fall in that time period. Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii were not states yet.

From the baseball perspective, the New York Yankees won all 27 of their titles in that span. The Marlins and Diamondbacks began play in 1993 and 1998, respectively, and won three combined championships. Their fellow “cursed” counterparts in Boston even won three titles after falling short for 86 years between 1918 and 2004.

But this team brings with it a hope that Cubs fans have not felt since their early-2000s heyday in the NL Central when players like Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and Moises Alou patrolled the friendly confines. Young talents like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Jake Arietta paired with resurgent veterans like John Lackey lead many to believe this team has a chance.

On top of that, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Title brought with it a newfound hope to a city who had not witnessed a champion since 1964. Boston’s win in 2004 rejuvenated the Fenway faithful after years of heartbreak.

Many things appear to be in place for a Chicago Cubs World Series title.

But there is one big worry inherent in that mindset. The best record in the Majors is not always indicative of a championship year. Of the 11 teams that posted the best regular season records in the modern era, four failed to win the World Series, three of the top five. Since 2000, only three teams with the best record in the MLB won the championship.

Furthermore, the Cubs posted the best regular season record ever in 1906 but lost in the World Series to the White Sox in six games. Regardless of record, the North Siders have not played in the Fall Classic since 1945.

That was the year the fabled Curse of the Billy Goat began when a fan declared that the Cubs would not win a championship again after an ejection from Game 4 of the year’s World Series.

Since then, the Cubs’ closest chances at even making the title were 2007 and 2008 NL Divisional Series losses and a 2003 incident the NLCS after fan Steve Bartman got in the way of a potential out. Chicago would drop the series after coming within five outs of winning the NL pennant.

When it comes to factors outside of the diamond, there are many factors leaning towards the Cubs not winning this year’s championship.

But the Cubs have high hopes to reverse their curse, especially after the Red Sox and White Sox shrugged off their demons in past years. The team’s biggest worry is the rigor of the upcoming playoffs.

The remaining teams in the NL postseason picture can provide tough tests for the Cubbies throughout October. Their first opponents, the San Francisco Giants, have found their way to the championship game in three of the last five years. The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers feature two of the brightest stars in baseball in outfielder Bryce Harper and pitching phenom Clayton Kershaw, respectively.

In the World Series, they could face some of the most potent rosters in the major leagues.

Many experts think a Cubs title would require visits to Boston in the World Series. If that were the case, they would have to square off against a Red Sox team with an always-clutch Ortiz, MVP candidate Mookie Betts and Cy Young Award hopeful Rick Porcello.

This matchup is only one of many the Cubbies could face. Cleveland’s fleet of young talent powers the team in all aspects of the game. The Texas Rangers have the firepower to take on nearly any team, and the Toronto Blue Jays are building momentum after a Wild Card win against a hot Baltimore Orioles squad.

But Chicago has the team to break the curse.

Their pitching staff is one of the best in the game today, and they have the ideal mix of young talent and veteran consistency on offense and defense. They have one of the best managers in the game in Joe Maddon. Even their front office has experience in breaking curses under the leadership of former Boston General Manager Theo Epstein.

The stars are aligned. Now it’s up to the Cubs to reach for them.


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