Let’s dispense with the sugar-coating and just say that the Chicago Cubs are in a very bad place right now, with a 3-1 deficit in the World Series and an offense that is sputtering, to say the least. Aside from their run in the opening inning and a Dexter Fowler homer late off Andrew Miller, there wasn’t much to be happy about in the pivotal Game Four.
That being said, as you saw from Anno’s account of Game Three, it was amazing that, just five seasons after Theo Epstein and friends took over, the Cubs found themselves in the World Series for the first time in several generations. I think it’s fine, if you want to, to be disappointed in the poor at-bats pretty much all series long, and Kris Bryant‘s poor defensive play after a solid season for the best defensive team in baseball. But that’s just a combination of nerves, youth, and the fickleness of baseball in a short series. It’s cruel, unforgiving, and heartbreaking.
And now that I’ve said that too, let’s be amazed by the fact that we can even say the words “National League Champion Chicago Cubs,” and also “The Cubs are in the World Series.” We aren’t happy that they are down 3-1 and on the verge of elimination, but we can be happy that they even had the chance to break our hearts.
We can also be confident that, despite being outplayed and probably outmanaged (so far) in the World Series, the Cubs have the right man at the helm in Joe Maddon to help the young players, like Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Willson Contreras, to improve their play from this year to next year. Those guys were instrumental in the team racking up 103 wins this season. They also made plenty of exciting plays in the postseason to get the Cubs to MLB’s biggest stage. Are we disappointed that they couldn’t sustain their hot streak against the Cleveland Indians (again, so far)? Of course. But we can’t ignore their contributions in an otherwise great season that allowed us to see the Eamus Catuli sign get rolled back:
I wouldn’t presume to tell you all how to fan, but for myself personally, I’m at peace with this season. I am, like most of you, dreading going back to work and hearing jeers from anti-Cubs fans, from Cardinals fans who will count rings, to White Sox fans who are rooting for the Indians for some reason because they can’t stand to see the Cubs win. But I am so proud of this club, and also confident in their abilities going forward.
Think about it…the core of this club, from Anthony Rizzo to Kris Bryant to the aforementioned young guys, are coming back and under club control for years to come. Kyle Schwarber will be back at full strength. Jason Heyward, as much as you might hate his guts, will hopefully figure out his swing and become the player that the Cubs thought they had signed on offense, while playing his usual Gold Glove caliber defense. This team has as good a chance as any to repeat as the best defensive team in the majors.
You can check my Twitter timeline if you wish, but I’ve been consistent with my feelings on this club and their unexpected sputtering in the World Series. I know some won’t excuse their poor play due to youth, but I never thought that the team lacked heart or hustle. I think they simply got outplayed by a team that shut down two of the best offenses in the American League in the Red Sox and Blue Jays before they went to work on the Cubs. I believe that the Cubs always gave their best effort, but simply didn’t execute. There are plenty of narratives to be had, as I’m sure you’ll see in the media and on the blogs and other social media.
I also know that the Cubs have not been eliminated yet, and that Jon Lester has been nails all postseason except for Game One. I think if Lester can send this series back to Cleveland, then Jake Arrieta has a good chance to get to Game Seven. And in Game Seven, all bets are off.
Let’s trust in this team to get us there. And even if they don’t, let’s not dwell on the negative, because this is a lot farther than most of us have ever seen from this franchise. After the 2015 disappointment, and if they are ultimately disappointed in 2016, I think they will come in hungrier, more prepared, more mature.
Here’s to Game Seven, everyone.