The words used in the title of this blog aren’t mine, I’m using the vernacular of Cubs ace Jon Lester who was talking about the Cubs sky high expectations for this season. The truth is, we’ve witnessed a paradigm shift of massive proportions regarding our Chicago Cubs baseball club. The lovable loser mentality – gone! Replaced by a new perspective of – champions!
As we begin the 2017 season tonight, Cubs fans are in uncharted territory as the team attempts to win back-to-back World Series titles for the first time since 1907 & 1908. Well, maybe it isn’t uncharted territory if you are 117 year old Emma Morano who was nine years old when the Cubs won those early 1900’s titles. However, I’m doubting as a child in Italy, Morano even knew of our baseball team in middle America. That likely is also the case for the few other living super-centenarians, who all seem to hail from Italy or Japan. But I digress.
We wrapped up another spring training season and the Cubs win-loss record was…who cares! The Cubs did break all kinds of MLB spring training attendance records. This was pretty much expected given their World Series Champion status.
Last year at this time, I wrote a capsule brief about each player on the Cubs roster. I’m not going to do that this year, as many of those write-ups would sound nearly identical to last season. I suppose that is what happens when you have a core of young studs. With all the excitement about the young players, it should not be forgotten this team has veteran leaders, like Lester and Ben Zobrist who won championships before even arriving in Chicago.
The Cubs are set to be competitive year-in-year-out for a while, perhaps as long as Theo is under contract on the North side.
The last two seasons have been an incredible ride, with last year being the ultimate high-point in Cub Universe. So, where can the team go from that amazing apex? Well, back-to-back titles sure sounds enticing.
When I say or write, back-to-back titles, I almost feel greedy. I mean, didn’t many of us say before last November, if the Cubs ever won a World Series our fandom would be complete? This paradigm shift thing is an ongoing process. For many long-time fans conditioned from years of lovable loser mentality, it won’t be easy to flip a switch in the cranium to the “champion” mind-set. It may take time.
The Vegas folks like the Cubs chances this season better than any other team. I don’t know if it’s excited Cubs fans, or experts playing the smart money, but Jay Rood, Vice President of Race and Sports books at MGM Resorts International, says they’ve written nearly twice as many betting tickets on the Cubs as the next closest team.
Having watched this year’s Cubs team up close and personal over the past month and a half, I can tell you, they’ve worked very hard! The boys also have had fun as well, like doing this new Bryzzo commercial. But they know how, and when, they need to work.
Some say, you need a bit of luck along the way to win a World Series. That may be true, but I prefer to think of it as Ray Kroc did, when he said: “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.”
I’m super excited about this new baseball season starting! The Cubs playing the Cardinals tonight is a great way to get it going. Now I’m going to practice a bit, so here’s to the start of another Cubs championship season!
Below are John Antonoff’s photos from the final Cubs Cactus League game, a 15-11 win over the Athletics last Wednesday at Sloan Park. Go Cubs!