Sports

Chicago Cubs stun the world with season for the ages

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“This is the year!” cubs logo This phrase, nay, this battle cry is what Chicago Cubs fans have been optimistically persisting in for over 107 years. Having last won a championship in 1908, the team is most definitely parched for a sense of real, tangible success at the highest stage in all of Major League Baseball. Time and time again, the fans have been lead on to believe in the promise of a ball club that is, “the team” and worthy of being World Series champions, but alas luck has never quite been something worth talking about on the north side of Chicago’s sports. The Chicago Cubs have had quite the plague of defeats including a history of statistical seasons that many Cubs fans would love to forget. The Cubs introduced the world to a man named Steve Bartman in 2003 through a heartbreaking loss in the postseason that may forever be engrained upon the mind of Cubs fans. The team defined the word, defeat in 2012 with a group of ballplayers that suffered through a season of 100 gruesome losses. Whether you call it a bad dose of luck, karma or bad juju, the Cubs have repeatedly taken the cake in the realm of displaying what it takes to come up short of a championship title. Many fans, desperate for an answer to this terrible string of losses, have even retorted upon believing in outlandish, superstitious occurrences such as a black cat running in front of the Cubs dugout or “the curse of the Billy goat.” Now, whether or not you believe in all of that stuff is a story entirely all its own; however, it goes without being said that the Chicago Cubs have been waiting for years to finally and truly believe in a team. The Chicago Cubs ended their 2014 campaign 16 games below .500 and thus began the rhetorical claims made by Cubs fans: “There’s always next year.” As the leaves changed and the snow melted from the surface of the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field, the front office of the Chicago Cubs went to work in assembling the missing pieces in their young baseball team. The 2015 ball club was going to be featuring a vast amount of young and inexperienced players, so the management of the Cubs believed adding more experienced players was going to be crucial to the team’s success. In the months leading up to the 2015 MLB season, the Chicago Cubs did just that by providing spots for seasoned players such as Miguel Montero, catcher, Dexter Fowler, outfielder, David Ross, catcher, and Jason Motte, relief pitcher. But the true headlines of the offseason were found within the Cubs’ signing of not one, but two of the league’s most sought after veterans of the game. They stole the show by signing one of the league’s biggest, free agent pitchers, Jon Lester to a staggering contract worth six years and $155 million while also signing the esteemed, former manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon. There was no denying that this team was going to be an improvement from previous years. However, something truly special began to take place in Chicago during the course of the 2015 season that most fans of baseball never saw coming. Wins, and lots of them! Fans of the “Lovable Losers” began finding a new-found sense of hope in this magnificent team. Whether it be via their hitting, fielding, base-running or pitching, the Chicago Cubs were highly capable of doing it all. Even when the team looked as if they were poised to lose, they found ways to comeback and win with a staggering total of 13 walkoff victories. One of the biggest, unexpected components to this team’s success was found within the right arm of starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta. The undetected Chicago ace put up a Cy Young Award-caliber season featuring a baffling ERA of 1.77 and tossing 236 strikeouts to opposing batters. Arrieta also was able to achieve one of the position’s top feats by throwing a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the first Cubs pitcher to do so since Carlos Zambrano threw his no-no against the Houston Astros in 2008. Another prominent piece to the team’s success lies within this team’s youth. Rookies such as Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Javier Báez, Kyle Schwarber and potential recipient of the esteemed rookie of the year award, Kris Bryant have all provided pivotal pieces to this dominant Cubs’ team. Through these positive contributions, the Cubs ended the regular season with 97 wins and claimed the third best record in all of major league baseball. Ironically, the only two teams with better records than the Cubs lied within their own division with the St. Louis Cardinals (100 wins) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (98 wins). With this record, the Cubs clinched a spot in the National League wild card game and their first postseason appearance since 2008. They faced a difficult matchup against a tough Pirates team on the road in a win or go home matchup; however, it was the Cubs that emerged victorious behind a stellar performance pitched by Jake Arrieta and timely home runs from Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler. With this victory the Cubs moved on to the National League Divisional Series to face their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. It had never been seen before. The Cubs and Cardinals were to face off against each other for the first time in post season history and the stakes could never have been any higher in this best of five series. The Cubs dropped the first game against the Cards. However, it was the underdogs who had the last laugh. The Cubs came out swinging for the fences in their next three matches and outscored the red birds 20-10 over that span, including a game 3 victory that featured 6 Cubs’ home runs. The Cubs were able to accomplish some truly phenomenal things in this series. The North-siders were able to dethrone the top-rated Cards (doing so with a handful of 20-year-old “kids”) and effectively punch their hard-earned ticket to the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. Chicago entered this NLCS matchup against New York with much more to prove than simply, who has better pizza (deep-dish versus thin crust). More so, the Cubs felt an overwhelming sense of urgency to climb to the top and win it all. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, they have started off this next phase in their quest quite poorly by dropping their first two games. This Mets team is loaded with top-notch pitching and a 2015 postseason monster of Daniel Murphy. The Cubs will look to switch back to their winning ways on Tuesday night as they return back to the windy city of Chicago. The Cubs are backing themselves into quite a tough predicament, as they will have to overcome the odds yet again to come out on top in this series. They lost two tough road battles against the Mets while starting Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta who have statistically been the Cubs best 1-2 punch on the mound this season. Facing a window that is closing more swiftly than they would like it to, the Cubs will be forced to muster all of their strength and endurance to show the world why there’s still hope to be found within the Cubs and the city of Chicago. No matter how it all goes down in this season-defining series, the Cubs and their loyal fans finally have reason to believe in something glorious again. There’s no denying that something special has happened throughout the course of this season in Chicago. This rare sighting of pure talent and potential has caused many heads to turn. For the first time in a long while, people are starting to look at the Cubs and the Friendly Confines of historic Wrigley Field a little bit differently. The W-flag is flying a little bit higher and the classic ivy that’s grown upon the outfield wall is growing a little bit greener, all admist the echoing cry and cheers of, “Go Cubs Go!”

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