By: Aaron Carter
My entire life as a sports fan, and particularly as a Cardinals fan, I have heard the constant banter and insane statements made by Chicago Cubs fans. For years my friends, all of whom are Cubs fans, would say “this year is finally our year”, and some people have been saying that for decades upon decades. Well, I believe that finally it is indeed Chicago’s year. It only took 108 years.
The Cubs it seemed were destined to win a championship even before the season started. They had a fantastic 2015 season before getting dominated by the New York Mets in last year’s NLCS, but this year they have been nothing but dominant.
The Cubs acquired two key players over the summer; one being John Lackey, a proven big-game pitcher and even gave the Cubs fits last year when he was a member of the Cardinals, and the other being Ben Zobrist, a standout of last year’s World Series winning Kansas City Royals.
Another key acquisition didn’t come over the summer, but it might have been far more important than the other two combined. Aroldis Chapman, the MLB’s hardest throwing pitcher, who consistently throws 100+ mph, has been dominant in the back end of a bullpen that has been surprisingly steady. Chapman will now have to match the prowess of Indians’ reliever Andrew Miller in the World Series.
All three of these players have played huge roles in the Cubs success this year, and all bring a much-needed veteran presence to an extremely young clubhouse.
This young clubhouse, albeit young, is one of the greatest teams ever witnessed in professional baseball.
Javier Baez, who was in trade talks over the past two years as a result of his inconsistency at the plate, has stepped up huge in the postseason batting .342 with a homer and seven RBIs (not to mention fantastic defense to go along with it).
Wilson Contreras, the rookie catcher/outfielder that was called up just four months ago, has been putting up solid numbers in the postseason to couple his fantastic play in the regular season. Contreras batted .282 with 12 homers throughout the regular season, but has batted .400 in the postseason with a grand slam so far which has given a much needed steady bat behind the plate for Chicago.
In addition to Contreras and Baez, Addison Russell has been fantastic, building on top of his second year in the big leagues. Russell has improved his power hitting immensely, slugging 21 homers during the regular season, and two key homers in the NLCS against the Dodgers.
The funny thing is, these three guys don’t make up the entire “young clubhouse”, but the list of players could go on and on.
The Cubs have been cursed by goats, black cats, and even cheated by their own diehard fans (Steve Bartman). Cubs’ fans will long forget all of these curses once the final pitch from Aroldis Chapman rings 100+ mph on the radar gun, smacking the mitt of the Cubs catcher and reverting the city of Cleveland back towards morality.
However, the Indians are not pushovers by any stretch; they impressively manhandled the offensive power houses in the Boston Red Sox, who were many people’s sneaky World Series pick (including my own- mainly due to the desire for David Ortiz to win one more before retiring), and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Indians pen, despite Miller and Cody Allen have been lock down at the back-end of games, has been noticeably shaky getting to the back innings however. The offense also has sometimes struggled and relied consistently on the long ball, especially against Toronto, to put runs on the board.
Despite the massive drought the Cubs are looking to end this October, the Indians are no strangers to long droughts themselves. Cleveland has gone 67 years since winning a World Series, and just ended its NBA drought by the king, LeBron James, who brought home the first NBA title to Cleveland, ever. Based on this, some people think it might just be Cleveland’s year.
Well, to those people I have to say you’re wrong. I am sorry, but you are wrong (and that is coming from a Cardinals fan).
All the evidence given previously about the young studs and the recent acquisitions is great, but that doesn’t even do this team justice. The Cubs still have Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, and Dexter Fowler, oh and don’t forget the masterminds behind it all, Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein.
Kris Bryant is in the running for NL MVP with monster numbers: .292 batting average, 39 home runs and 102 RBIs. Anthony Rizzo is the heart and soul of this team who still can produce volumes offensively and defensively. Jon Lester has improved drastically from his first year with this organization (2nd in ERA with 2.44). Former Cy-Young Jake Arrieta has struggled somewhat this year, but has been uber-consistent during the postseason. Kyle Hendricks had the best ERA in the majors this year at 2.13, and he’s only 26. Not to mention Dexter Fowler who had his best year as a professional ballplayer this year- making the All-Star team, racking up monster numbers and being one of the clubhouses’ most popular guys.
This team is flat-out scary, and it’s young, which means it could be dominant for the next five years. Obviously the team won’t be able to retain all these young stars who will eventually seek massive contracts in other locations, but for now, watch out. It is your year Cubs fans; man, I thought I would never say that.