Within the past four years, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox have each won the World Series. In doing so, each has broken a long drought of World Series victories. This trend of breaking curses made people start thinking: why not the Chicago Cubs?
For anyone not familiar with the long suffering of the Cubs, it goes like this: the Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 and have not even been to the World Series since 1945. This long suffering has been attributed to the ‘Curse of the Billy Goat,” which tells the story of a man who tried to bring a billy goat into Wrigley Field (the home of the Cubs since 1914) and was told he could not. In response, he said that the team would never reach another World Series after that year ever again.
This year, however, seemed to be different. The Cubs spent the offseason improving the team and getting their pitching staff healthy. Due to the talent in the lineup, rotation and bullpen, many analysts picked the Cubs to win the World Series this year. The Cubs put together a season in which they backed up the reasons that many felt this was truly their year. During the season, they made key additions to bolster their lineup and rotation that increased the likelihood that they would succeed. Additionally, they put together the National League’s best record.
Unfortunately for Cubs fans, these impressive stats were compiled in the regular season and baseball has a second season the postseason. Perhaps the only guarantee in an MLB postseason now is that you cannot predict the results. This parody is driven by the fact that the Division Series is a best-out-of-five series. The fact that a team only has to win three games instead of four has made the Division Series a crapshoot.
In the Cubs’ first round series, this crapshoot concept was clearly demonstrated. Scoring 855 runs during the regular season, the Cubs only scored six runs in three games against the Dodgers. These same Cubs, who only gave up 671 runs this season, allowed the Dodgers to score 20 runs in those three games. Add that up, and you have yourself a three-game sweep at the hands of a team who had the worst record (84-78) of any team that made the playoffs.
So what does this all mean? For the Cubs organization, there have to be a lot of questions asked about what went wrong. The basic thing that Cubs management needs to do is find what was lacking and fill the holes.
For the team in general, and for its fans, it is yet another year of frustration. How do you quantify the frustration of 100 years without a World Series ring or even the 63 years without a pennant? To be honest, you can’t. The team has showed itself to be capable of winning, and now the fans have expectations and therefore cannot be the lovable losers anymore.
With this expectation comes a responsibility for the organization to build a team capable of not only being a playoff contender, but also to be a World Series contender. This means changes like finding a lead-off hitter because Alfonso Soriano is not disciplined enough and they need his offensive production to be in the middle of the lineup. This should be one of many changes the Cubs will make in an offseason filled with questions and a fiercely loyal fan base wondering when its suffering will end.
Gillenson is a member of the class of 2010.