Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for clinching the National League Central Division. Okay, the Giants clinched it for them by defeating the Cardinals on the left coast late last night after the Cubs dropped one to the Brewers. But, backing into it or not, it’s quite an achievement to clinch a division as early as September 16. The young Cubs, under the direction of Joe Maddon, have won 93 games with 14 left to play in the regular season. They have a shot at finishing well into triple digits in wins.
More importantly, the talented Cubs have a chance to make Northside regulars forget 1908, the last year the Cubs won the World Series. I don’t know this first hand, but I’m told that in the Wrigley Field souvenir shop fans can by a jersey with the Cubs emblem on it and the legend: “Any team can have a bad century.” There’s a guy who goes to my gym in Tampa who wears a sweat shirt with the Cubs emblem and the legend: “World Champions — 1908.” Droll sarcasm at its finest.
A little review here on how long it’s been since the Cubs were world champs: In 1908, Leo Tolstoy and Mark Twain were still alive. Ronald Reagan had not been born yet. As for championships, the Cubs are the very definition of overdue.
Of course it’s a bit early to be sizing Cubs players for their championship rings. The hardest part begins in October. There will be several good teams between the Cubs and their ultimate goal. And a good regular season is no guarantee of success in October (and, as the MLB playoffs now have more layers than your average onion, of success in November).
Baseball historians in Chicago cannot help but be haunted by the memory of the 2001 Seattle Mariners who won a record 116 regular season games, only to be defeated four games to one by the Evil Empire (sometimes known as the New York Yankees) in the American League Championship Series that year. Some wake up in cold sweats following nightmares of the foul pop-up that a fan took away from Moises Alou late in Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship, changing the direction of a game that likely would have advanced the Cubs to the World Series.
Fans of the Grand Old Game know there are no guarantees in the sport they love. In fact, heartbreak is more likely than jubilation at the end of any given summer. But this year’s Cubs have a legitimate shot at glory. And Maddon has a shot at never having to pay for his own drinks in Chicago ever again.
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