The Chicago Cubs have finally clinched a playoff series at Wrigley Field. Let that sink in for a moment. It only took the Northside faithful 99 years to see their beloved Cubs clinch a series at the Friendly Confines. None of that matters right now though. Chicago’s youth movement powered them past the best regular season team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams fought through the toughest division in baseball and survived to make the playoffs and we pitted against one another in the NLDS. Every baseball fan knows the lore of the Cubs. Wait until next year (the eternal optimist). The curse of the Billy Goat (very much real). Steve Bartman (the scapegoat for a team that fell apart after a fan did what any fan would do, try to catch a foul ball). Wrigley Field has kept the Cubs relevant even when the team was just plain awful. No matter how terrible the team was the bleachers were usually full even during mid-week day games. Wrigley Field was a destination for any and every baseball fan, including this one who sat in the right field bleachers three years ago during a Cubs victory against the Giants.
Some may call the Cubs, or some other team, a team of destiny. Others will say it is time to break all the curses and bring a World Series championship to Wrigley. Whatever you call them the Cubs are fun to watch. They are playing far beyond their years and appear to have the ability to make a run at winning it all. They are playing hard and with a style all their own. Manager Joe Maddon is managing the team the way he wants. He seems relaxed yet focused, which is rubbing off on his youth squad. They have escaped the Wild Card game, which was a bridge too far for the Pirates and Yankees. Undoubtedly, the Cubs have avoided the injury bug, which may have doomed the Cardinals. They have avoided the decisive Game 5, unlike the other remaining six team, where any and everything can happen, good and bad.
The Cubs were stripped down to the bones and rebuilt after a couple lackluster seasons following back to back seasons of playoff disappointments. Credit is due to General Manager Jed Hoyer and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein for their masterful job in getting quality returns on their trades and through the draft. Both Hoyer and Epstein understood the task ahead of them and have seen the fruits of their labor. The Cubs might win the World Series this year, or they might not. Regardless how their season ends, the Cubs are relevant again. Go to any Cubs away game and it has the feel that you are at a Cubs home game. This can be annoying, but it speaks to the love and passion of the long-suffering fan base. The Northside faithful are hoping for a World Series championship. It is too soon to know if it is finally next year for the Cubs. However, regardless of what happens during the rest of the playoffs, the Cubs are moving on to the NLCS. This is good for these young players, for the Northside faithful, and for baseball. The game is better when every team has a legitimate chance to win it all every so often, and it is time for the Cubs to get their shot.