Filed under: Cubs
I remember back in May 2005, the Chicago White Sox were off to a fantastic start to the season. Halfway through the month they had a 29-12 record, and a 5 and a half game lead over the Twins. Most people don't believe me when I tell them this, but at that point, I knew the White Sox were going to win the World Series that season.
I didn't care that they hadn't won a title since 1917, or that they had only played the first quarter of the season. I knew that 2005 was going to be the year. It was at that point that I went to an online betting site and put money down on it at 15-1 odds. I wasn't risking a large sum of money, for I wasn't making these big time blogger dollars at the time, but it was enough to make their eventual championship all that much sweeter.
Of course, I didn't view it as a risk. As I said, I knew they were going to win it all. I wasn't exactly sure what I saw in that team up to that point, but there was just this feeling about them, I guess you could call it swagger. I'm not even exactly sure just what the hell swagger means, but whatever it is, the White Sox had it that season. When they were down four runs going into the ninth inning, I still felt like they were going to win, and more importantly, so did they.
I haven't had that feeling about the White Sox since, and I don't have it this year. Of course, there's only one team in baseball that I do have that feeling about, and I've had it for a while, I just haven't found the courage to tell anyone about it.
Well, today is the day I man up.
The Chicago Cubs are going to win the World Series this year. There, I said it.
This isn't some lame ass attempt to jinx the team either, I really do mean it. Of course, since these are the Cubs we're talking about, I know that the first thoughts amongst Cubs fans upon reading this will be that I'm trying to screw them. In fact, I can guarantee you that within the first twenty minutes after this post goes live on FanHouse, I'm going to be getting about 10 text messages from my north side friends all saying essentially the same thing.
"You son of a b***h. If they get swept out of the first round again, I'll [freak]ing kill you."
They'll mean it too, they're just that paranoid about the Cubs. As I said before, though, this is NOT AN ATTEMPT to jinx the Cubs out of their first World Series title in 100 years. I've been feeling this way for about three months now, and trust me, I'm watching plenty of Cubs games lately hoping that the feeling will fade.
It's still there, and unfortunately, it's not going away. Even when the team was struggling earlier this month, losing eight of nine, I still felt it. While their fans may have started to hit the panic button, nobody on the team seemed to be worried at all. They knew what was going on, as there is no baseball team in the league today, or in the past, that can go through an entire season without hitting a rut. The Cubs are no exception, and this was their rut.
In fact, the rut actually helped reaffirm my beliefs. If 2008 wasn't meant to be the Cubs year, the Brewers would have taken advantage of the slide, but instead they decided to have their own rough spell (one they're still in and that cost their manager, Ned Yost, his job).
Now, before writing this article I had only divulged my feelings about the Cubs this season to two people, both very close friends. One of whom is one of those wusses who roots for both teams, and the other as devout a Chicago Cubs fan as I've ever known.
It didn't come as a surprise that the Cubs fan told me he kind of felt the same way, but that he wanted me to shut up about it. The other friend became relatively excited by my revelation because she was the first person I was telling about the White Sox in 2005, and you know, as long as somebody in the city wins she'll be happy.
So why am I spilling the beans now? You have to believe me when I tell you that I tried to avoid this moment. I knew all week that I would be writing the From The Windup today, and I did everything in my power to think of any other subject to write about. I toyed with the idea of writing up a column on Ron Gardenhire, and how the 2008 season has been his best managerial work since he took over the Twins, and that he deserves the Manager of the Year award (not that he has any chance in hell of winning it over Joe Maddon). Then, as they've done to me so many times this season, the Cubs diverted my attention.
I was watching them play the Brewers on Thursday afternoon when I saw the latest example of why I think they're going to win the Series this year, and it knocked all thoughts of Gardenhire out of my mind. The Cubs were trailing the Brewers 6-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley, and were in danger of losing two in a row to Milwaukee and giving the Brewers some momentum over the last two weeks.
Previous Cubs teams would have let the Brewers off the hook, but not the 2008 version of the squad. This team actually knows when it's time to step on an opponent's neck, and they do it. Of course, those feelings started to dissipate when the first two Cubs came to the plate in the inning and made a couple of quick outs.
But then, it happened.
Aramis Ramirez hit a sinking line drive into left field that Ryan Braun came charging in on. Now since Ryan Braun is to defense what oil is to vinegar, he misplayed it. The ball got by him, rolled to the wall, and Ramirez was standing at second base.
At that point I knew that despite their four-run deficit, and already having two outs, the Cubs were going to win the game. Jim Edmonds then came up and singled to center, scoring Ramirez and making it a 6-3 game. That hit was followed by Mark DeRosa singling to the gap, and Edmonds moving into third base.
This all led up to Geovany Soto stepping to the dish and taking the very first pitch he saw and planting it in the left field bleachers (and to think, Eric Gagne wasn't even pitching at the time) with a shot that was so emphatic Ryan Braun never even moved. He just watched the ball fly over his head no doubt thinking "my bad" as it landed in the outstretched arms of an overjoyed Cub fan.
A few innings later Derrek Lee was singling in the winning run, and the Cubs had managed to break the hearts and spirit of the Milwaukee Brewers.
You can spend as much time as you want marveling at how the "new" Manny Ramirez has revitalized the Dodgers, or wondering if the Mets are going to blow it again, but none of it's going to matter. This Cubs team is going to steamroll through the National League playoffs, and get to the World Series.
Then they'll face either the Angels, Red Sox, Rays, Twins or White Sox. No, wait, it won't be the White Sox, their bullpen will kill them long before they get there. Still, it won't matter which team the Cubs face from the American League. Though I'm sure they'll be the underdogs considering how much stronger the AL is, and that they won't have homefield advantage, but it isn't going to matter.
The Cubs will win, and it won't be because they have a better offense than their opponent (they do) or a better starting rotation (they do), it'll be because of the look in their eyes and the way they walk. They just have that swagger, and I don't see it in any other team this season. This Cubs team knows it's going to win, and though they won't say it, they're going to show everybody come October.
And though it absolutely kills me to say it, don't say I didn't warn you.