September 15, 2016

13 September:

The time has come to accept the facts as they are presented.

Barring some unforeseen event the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team, first established in 1876, 11 years after the end of the Civil War and founding members of the National League in 1903 will win their first World Series since 1908.

This is a mighty bold prediction for an organization who’s success predates every modern convenience item invented save for electricity and primitive locomotion. Cars and planes were but novelties.

There were no antibiotics but opiates were legal and available over the counter. You may not cure anything but you could feel just dandy as you died.  The 30th President was Teddy Roosevelt, who declined to run for a third term living up to a campaign promise.

William Howard Taft was President when the champagne corks popped at West Side Park, where they played until 1915. It was bordered by Congress, Loomis, Harrison and Throop streets. They  were the toast of the baseball world back then, with back to back titles in 1907 and 1908.

Cut to today.

With a backdrop of civilian space travel, artificial intelligence and transhumanism among other delicacies the 2016 Chicago Cubs are now, once again the focus of all that is good in America’s favorite pastime.

The 92-51 Cubs team is the best one in baseball. That is now without doubt. They play both sides of the ball extremely well, and their underrated pitching staff only leads the Major Leagues with a 3.08 ERA.

Nobody else is close.

Their opponents are hitting .210 against them and the staff has a 1.11 WHIP. They have allowed 52 fewer runs than their closest opponent.  The defense has only a .984 percentage, which is in the lower half of all teams. But that is a misleading stat.

They’re so damn fast;  quick and agile that they get to balls others don’t. According to Fangraphs they have, by far, the best Defensive Wins Against Replacement(DWAR) of any other team.

Not to mention the most Wins Above Replacement (WAR) on offense. They aren’t particularly fast but run the bases exceedingly well. When they have Willson Contreras behind the plate, Javier Baez at second, Addison Russell at short and Albert Almora Jr in center there is NO other team even close in defense up the middle.

It might rank with the best of all time.

The one-two punch of Anthony Rizzo and the hands on favorite MVP Kris Bryant propel the offense, one that relies on power but is capable of generating offense with small ball as well.

Then there’s the pitching.

Everyone now knows about Jake Arrieta and his world class streak from last season until mid May, He has since proved himself human, albeit a very, very good one. The new ‘phenom’ is Kyle Hendricks, only in his third year toiling at the major league minimum of $541k per year (if that can correctly be called ‘laboring’; everything is relative) is now one of the two or three top favorites for Cy Young.

That said, fellow pitcher Jon Lester may have something to say about it. He’s neck in neck competition wise. 16-4 with a 2.51 ERA is plenty good, and he’s got a few more starts.

They have another pitcher, Jason Hammel who’s 14-8 with a 3.50 ERA. He would be a #2 starter on 28 of the 30 teams, and #1 on a dozen or so. He very well may not make the post season ROSTER.

They are that good.

Games are won on the field of endeavor, not the printed page. Their numbers are impressive, but veteran teams like the Giants, Dodgers, Mets and Nationals await them. Anything can happen.

But it won’t. Not this year. It is their time. Maybe a Cub championship can usher in peace in our time.

Until just three years ago they were both unimaginable…