Well, Back to the Future day ended, and like Robert Zemekis did when they promised us hover boards, they got it all wrong.
No, the Chicago Cubs did not win the World Series. And yes, they were swept by Daniel Murphy. But at the end of the day, Cubs fans should not be disappointed in the least, and in fact, should hold their heads high.
Sure, it’s easy to be angry with being swept in the NLCS. It’s easy to look at the negatives. Anthony Rizzo, who is somewhat the team leader, was offensively non-existent. Jake Arrieta looked more like Big Game James Shields and David Price in the playoffs than he did down the stretch. So what?
Let’s remember how this season started. This season started with how the Chicago Cubs were on the verge of becoming the cream of the crop in the National League, but still maybe a year away. This season started as an Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa story, as one time division rival Theo Epstein hired Joe Maddon to work together and bring home the championship. And this season started with a great debate.
Remember that? What to do with Kris Bryant and the service clock? Many people felt the Cubs were fools for not calling up the most Major League ready prospect in the Minors from day one. What would happen if the Cubs fell ten games short, and it was because they were more concerned about saving a few million than playing possibly their best weapon?
Well, Cubs management AND their fans stood pat, knowing that it was the right move and that they would have Kris Bryant under control for five more years. And they proved many, many skeptics wrong. Those few games he spent in Iowa didn’t matter, and Kris Bryant is an absolute stud. And he will be at a very cost efficient deal, which will make the Cubs very competitive.
Kyle Schwarber became one of the most fun players to watch in the NL, and I know that I rooted for him to launch one of his epic home runs every time he came to the plate. Think about this. The Cubs starting lineup for Game 1 of the NLCS had three rookies in it (Bryant, Schwarber and Jorge Soler). They had EIGHT players 25 years old or younger on their roster. This team wasn’t supposed to be here yet. They were supposed to be a year away in the most competitive division in baseball.
Instead they won 97 games, better than the ENTIRE American League and all but two teams in the NL. And how did they get to the NLCS? They first defeated a 98-win Pittsburgh Pirates team and then took down the only 100-game winning team in baseball this season. That’s right, the Cubs defeated one of baseball’s most storied franchises, who many felt were in the driver’s seat, but instead the Cardinals fell to one of their longest rivals.
What happened in the NLCS? I wouldn’t worry about Arrieta’s bad outing, he logged a lot of innings and he had never pitched in a game with that magnitude before. EVERYBODY has a learning curve. This team gained the invaluable playoff experience it needed and should have a solid, young core in which to move forward.
Then there is that old baseball adage that good pitching beats good hitting. Well, it’s even tougher when it’s good YOUNG pitching versus good YOUNG hitting. Let’s face it, as much as it pains me to say it, the New York Mets rotation is sick, and right now, they have to be in the argument as the best in baseball. No one should have to face Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz in anything less than a 25-game series. These guys are good, and when you have the crafty fatman Bartolo Colon there to pick them up, you have a deadly combination.
And, every MLB Postseason has its ultimate hero. You can’t deny that Daniel Murphy is in a zone like no other. He’s had a home run in six games in a row, and nearly had two last night.
The Mets being in the World Series is hilarious to me. As a sports writer, I often search out team fan pages and forums to see what fans are saying about their beloved franchises. While the Cubs faithful had nothing but love all season (and every year, which says a lot about this fanbase if you look at their past five seasons), here were a few things that I remember Mets fans griping about:
- Terry Collins is the worst manager ever, and after that six-man rotation, nearly all of Mets Nation wanted him fired
- After every bad start, Matt Harvey was “rushed back” and shouldn’t be the ace of this rotation. While I agree that the Mets have arguably three aces… come on.
- Daniel Murphy isn’t an everyday player, and they should trade him before he walks in free agency.
How things change, huh? Maybe if Mets fans had a Delorean of their own, they could go back and read these things from May and June, but right now, it’s all for naught. Yoenis Cespedes changed this team, and they have earned and deserved their spot in the World Series.
So while “The Curse” continues to leave Chicago champion-less once again since 1908, this season is a huge victory. While yesterday put everything from Back to the Future into the past, it also shed light on an exciting future in the National League.