Even the rain couldn’t delay the inevitable
The entire baseball universe rejoiced as America’s favourite sad franchise finally broke their 108 year curse, winning the World Series early on Thursday morning.
The Chicago Cubs, those cursed lovable Cubs finally broke through a century of disappointment and brought happiness to the north side of Chicago. The Windy City will be celebrating for… well, when does Spring training start? That long.
And they deserve it. They did everything right.
And Toronto fans should be licking their lips in happy anticipation. No, not Blue Jay fans.
The Cubbies had the longest drought in professional sports. They came close a few times, but bad luck, bad players, bad management… it all prevented them from breaking out.
5 years ago, team owner Tom Ricketts made the first move that would change the future of the franchise. He hired Theo Epstein as his president of baseball operations. Epstein of course was the boy wonder who, as the general manager, led the Boston Red Sox to their curse-breaking World Series win in 2004, followed by another in 2007. In 2011, the Cubs put their first piece in place by signing him as their president.
After 3 losing seasons, they assembled a roster with some pretty good pieces, but Epstein made a massive move in acquiring a brilliant manager in Joe Maddon, a man known for his knowledge of the game and ability to get the most out of his players.
This manager now had a core to work with, which included Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez and Dexter Fowler. And of course, they had their number one prospect – Kris Bryant.
In 2015, they had a winning season, and made the playoffs, where they were in over their heads.
In 2016, the Cubs were the best team in baseball, as they added in key pieces through trades and free agency like Ben Zobrist, Aroldis Chapman and Jason Heyward (and prospect Wilson Contreras).
All of a sudden, these guys were favourites. And although they were knocked down, they never gave up. Down 3-1, they won 3 in a row, including 2 in Cleveland to take baseball’s biggest prize.
So again – why should Leaf fans care?
Theo Epstein = Brendan Shanahan. True – Shanny didn’t have the winning record that Epstein did, but…
Joe Maddon = Mike Babcock. Babcock has the winning record that Maddon didn’t.
Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester = Morgan Reilly and Frederik Andersson. High level guys you can depend on to succeed.
Rizzo, Russell, Shwarber, Baez and Fowler = the likes of Kadri, Marner, Nylander, Bozak, Komarov and Hyman
Now obviously some will argue the level of talent of those Leafs vs those Cubs, but as everyone saw last year, the Leaf core was ready to take the next step and progress, much like the Cubs did between 2014 and 2015.
And of course, the most important comparison:
Kris Bryant = Auston Matthews.
High level prospect/draft pick studs. Check.
So leaf fans… if you look at what the Cubs just did, how they did it, and how long it took… maybe our own curse is closer to ending than most realized.
A couple of trades or free agent acquisitions could have us planning our parade route, and a party that lasts from June to September. If it could happen for the Cubbies, why not us?
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