On this day off between the end of the regular season–where the Cardinals played all 162 games–and the postseason–where the Cardinals will watch it on TV like the rest of us–a few thoughts are in order.
That dig at the Cardinals sounds a bit petty, but the truth is I’m glad the teams will not meet in the postseason. The Cubs finally ended the Cardinals’ three-year run on top of the NL Central in 2016, and there’s no possibility of a rematch from last season, either. So enjoy the offseason for a change, Cardinals Nation.
Winning 103.5 games in the regular season was a feat I haven’t seen before, and may not ever see again. It was wonderful seeing triple digits in the win column, because they showed up on the other end of the spectrum back in 2012, when Theo Epstein and his crew began the Cubs’ rebuild.
Bringing them all back for the next five years feels like a move that will cement the Cub’s legitimacy on the field, for as far as the eye can see. And the construction along Clark Street, to go with upgrades inside the ballpark itself, is another sign that everything is on the upswing near Clark and Addison Streets. “Ebullient” is not too strong a word to describe where this Cubs fan is at, two and a half seasons after being disgusted with everything they stood for. After all, everything changes in life.
The new facilities and the dynamic team on the field are designed to make the turnstiles spin and the cash registers ring for years to come, and that’s a great thing. But the ultimate prize hasn’t been achieved yet.
Division titles are great, and it’s the one sure way to punch a team’s ticket into the postseason. But this is also the sixth division title that I’ve seen as a Cubs fan, and all of the previous go-rounds in October haven’t ended well.
Again, 100+ wins in the regular season is a great feat, which I’m grateful to have experienced. Not since 1910 have the Cubs won so many times. And after three and a half seasons of losing-by-design, the wins now have a sweetness that I didn’t know about before. But it’s not the end of the journey, either.
A point could be made that winning the National League pennant and getting to the World Series would represent progress from 2015, and that would technically be true. But it also means that
- we’ll hear about 1908 incessantly, in case we haven’t already, and
- David Ross wouldn’t go into retirement with the ring his teammates want him to have, and
- White Sox fans can harp on 2005 for one more season, and–most importantly of all-
- an unknowable set of Cubs fans who are with us today will go to their graves without knowing what winning a championship feels like.
With all this in mind, the time is now, and Next Year is going to arrive this year. Because until that happens, Theo and his team haven’t accomplished a thing.