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Ready for a bold prediction? Get ready, it’s coming. Here it is: The Cubs will be contenders. Wait . . don’t say a word. . just sit quietly and absorb what I just said. I know, it’s risky to put my credibility on the line with such a bold, some may call rash, prediction, but I beg you, hear me out. Listen to what I have to say before you dismiss this is as another biased fan making a very generic prediction. I mean come on, what does it actually mean to contend, right? Just about any team that doesn’t reside in Tampa Bay or Kansas City is a contender at least through April. But I am talking more than just making the playoffs; I am talking bigger than the NLCS, I am speaking of Champions.
That sounds nice doesn’t it, the Chicago Cubs, 2006 World Series Champions. 98 years in the making, what drama that has to it. More than the Red Sox, more than . . ummm . .that other team that just won. What was their name again, they had that guy, you know the one, the Hurts Bad or something, anyway not important. What is important is this, if the Cubs don’t win, things will change, everything will change. I never thought I would hear myself say this, but the winds are picking up in Chi-Town, this is a must win season for the Cubs. So lets break it down.
They will win because of their new additions. “Replacing Sammy Sosa, take 2”. Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre, and Matt Murton are starting in the outfield. None of them started with the Cubs last year which can be nothing but good considering how awful their outfield was. Burnitz’s 24 homers, .258 AVG, .322 OBP are out and Jones’ . . . hmm . . well, let’s hope he can do better in a more hitter friendly ballpark. Nomar’s out, was he ever really in? New kid Ronny Cedeno takes over who brings with him a better glove and a .341 AVG between AAA and the majors. They took a gamble on Wade Miller to be ready to go after the all-star break, among other minor moves.
They will win because of health. Well this one may not be true, but let’s just hope they get a little luck on their side. Aramis Ramirez, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood all had significant injuries at one point during the season. If these three can remain healthy and play up to their capabilities for a full season, the Cubs just might be unstoppable. The only problem is that that’s one big IF. Remember what they did in 2003? This could happen again, only this time they would finish it off. Kerry Wood will be out for at least a month. This can only be good though, right? Remember Beckett during the said year? He took some time off due to blisters and looked fresher than any other pitcher during the postseason. Lets just say I am keeping my fingers crossed on this one.
They will win because time is running out. Juan Pierre we hardly knew ye. You are a free agent after the year and if you don’t perform well, you certainly won’t be back. Kerry Wood is crossing into his 30’s. Greg Maddux wasn’t able to keep his streak alive last year, which means he will play out his contract, and most likely ride off into the sunset, unlike one Roger Clemens. Dusty Baker, this is your 3rd year. It’s go time, the fans are growing inpatient with you and your credibility is hanging on by a thread. Was 2003 a fluke? Are you really only an average coach? If you don’t win this year, the Cubbie faithful will be calling for your head.
They will win because of karma. You can’t deny it, they have IT. First the Red Sox, then that other team, their time is now. All that’s left is for the Cubs to wipe away that old curse, the long drought, and finally win a World Series. It’s been much to long. Exactly 100 years ago the Cubs set the record for most wins in a season only to be tied by one team since, coincidence, I think not. Ok, maybe I am stretching here, but its only because I believe in it. I have to believe, it's in my blood. But more than I have to believe, they have to win, which brings me to my final point.
They will win because they must. Why have Cubs fans been so forgiving over such futility? Because it’s all they have known. The days are gone though when baseball was more than a just a sport, more than a way of life. It has evolved into a business. Or maybe ore eyes have just been opened with the players and agents and free agency showing us how greedy people can be. But it is true that times have changed. It’s been a long time since Chicago had a winning team. The town was always thought of as Cub town, and who can blame them. When both teams are losing, the Cubs are a better option. Let’s face facts here, Wrigleyville has much more to offer than the projects on south side.
Since last October however, ideas have changed. Many folks in Chicago have been closet White Sox fans afraid to show their true colors. But they don’t have to be afraid anymore. What’s worse, fans are realizing that you don’t have to lose every year. Fans are becoming inpatient. Desire for a winning team will come at all costs, even if it means finding that team on the other side of town. If the players can be greedy and switch teams with out flinching, why can’t the fans? Who wants to keep paying and investing in a losing product?
The winds of change are blowing in Chi-town. And if the Cubs don’t win, they may start losing something more. You can listen to Hendry and MacPhail all you want about how there is no urgency to win now that the White Sox won. But what they won’t tell you is that they are freighted of what the future may bring if the Cubs don’t win a World Series soon. I am freighted about what I am about to say, might Chicago actually become a Sox town?