I remember the last time I looked at the Cubs as a winning ball club. It was 2008, what a summer! The Brewers were second in the NL Central with 90 wins. The Cubs division title was no cheap feat as they won it by 7.5 games! They had the most wins in the regular season of any National League team with 97.
I remember thinking Ryan Theriot and his .307 BA were the answer at shortstop. Mike Fontenot was growing on me quickly along with a gutty Reed Johnson. It was Geo’s first full season with the Cubs and in my opinion his best. I didn’t think we would need a catcher for quite some time.
Then the playoffs happened…..
The Dodgers crushed any hopes Cub fans had of a post-season run to the series by a 20-6 margin over three straight games. The headlines during the series and after the third game read like this….
“Cubs thumped by Dodgers again, on cusp of heartbreak”
“For Cubs, it’s a tale of two seasons”
The first one is unique and I enjoyed reading it, which is why I gave the link. It brought back all the Cubbiness of that 2003-2008 stretch. I had almost forgotten about the amount of “Curse” talk and mystical hubbub that surrounds this club when they start winning. I had no idea the team hired a Greek Orthodox Priest to perform an exorcism in order to vanquish the curse of the Billy Goat!!! Holy Hell, for real? Apparently it was the chairman’s idea (whoever played that roll back then), the players and Piniella were unaware until they saw it on TV.
Anyhow, where was I? Oh yah, the last time I viewed the Cubs as a winner was six years ago. The question I keep asking myself is, How good were they? Were they really that good, or did they overachieve?
As I type this the Cubs are finishing off a win against the Reds…their fourth in a row. Something feels different about this team and the team we may see over the coming year. I get excited to see Rizzo, Baez, and Mendy hit. I caught myself running to the TV to watch Rizzo tonight…..rewarded with a homerun (his 30th). I haven’t run to the TV to watch a Cub hitter since 2012 and it was Rizzo then too. Prior to that it was 2008 and it may have been situational and not a specific player, I don’t remember it was so long ago. My point is, this team is exciting again. They may not be the refined version of what they are to be, but it’s a start.
Now we get Soler who, if healthy, will put on a show at some point. That’s five hitters including Castro that make the Cubs worth watching again. Some people think the tipping point for this team happened weeks ago with the call up of Baez. That could be true but we may start tipping a little faster tonight against the Reds with new Cub Jacob turner on the mound and Soler in the lineup. Now, Turner could get racked pretty badly and my whole thesis is blown, but we are getting real close to the future here. We now have five very talented bats in this lineup and I have not even mentioned the rentals we signed to fill gaps that have played above and beyond this season.
We will probably win ourselves out of a draft pick in the top 5 over the next few weeks, but I could care less and I think the management is starting to feel the same way. At some point it’s time to start winning. It’s good for the soul.