81-45. 13½ game lead in the NL Central. 18-4 in the month of August, including an 11-game win streak to start the month. The potential MVP, Cy Young, and manager of the year all on the same team. The magic number to clinch the division down to 24 by August 24th. Indeed, these are not your father’s Chicago Cubs.
It goes without saying that this is a great time to be a Cubs fan. But, this also has left Cubs fans in a weird place: not knowing how to handle the emotions of waiting out the final 36 games before the NLDS starts on October 7. This is the ultimate Ricky Bobby “I don’t know what to do with my hands” moment. So what do we do for the next five weeks?
First off, let’s just take a moment here to appreciate what the Cubs have done so far. On July 26 last season, the Phillies finished off a sweep of the Cubs, putting them at 51-46. All hope was lost, and it seemed as if the Cubs were destined for another .500 season.
Since then (including the postseason), they’ve gone 121-69, took down division rivals Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the playoffs, and made it to their first NLCS since 2003. It was a magical run to end 2015, as Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, and Joe Maddon all brought home awards for the season. Despite an NLCS sweep, the future looked incredibly bright for the Cubs.
Starting 25-6 this year didn’t help temper those expectations, either. With the exception of one rough patch when Dexter Fowler was on the DL (remember when we were afraid of the division lead falling to 5½ games at the All Star break?), the Cubs have looked unstoppable in 2016.
As a lifelong Cubs fan, how could you not love what’s going on right now? Wrigley is electric on a night-to-night basis. The team looks unfazed by the amount of pressure on them to win right now. The combination of youth and leadership is unlike any other sports team today, and it seems all of the elements are in play for a magical postseason run.
So what do we do, as Cubs fans, for the rest of the season? Do we REALLY want to watch the Bears play? (the answer to that is no). Well, there will be some days where we can still celebrate this great Cubs team.
Eventually, the Cubs will clinch their first division title since 2008, so that’ll cause reason to celebrate once it becomes officially official. And if they somehow defy the odds and lose the division, you can all blame me for jinxing them.
Home field advantage in the NL is also key. This shouldn’t be a problem for the Cubs either, as they are up eight games on Washington in that race. Needless to say, you can purchase game 1, 2, and 5 tickets for the NLDS if you feel inclined to do so.
The next big thing on the list for the Cubs if whether they’ll get to 100 wins or not. As it stands on August 25, the Cubs would have to go 19-17 down the stretch to finish the season with 100 wins. While 100 wins isn’t the ultimate goal (obviously), no Cubs team has reached that mark since 1935 (the Cubs lost to Detroit in the World Series that year). The recent division winners of 2003, 2007 and 2008 had 88, 85, and 97 wins, respectively. With the way Maddon manages this team, I would be shocked if the Cubs didn’t get to 100 wins by the end of the season.
The rest of the time, though, Cubs fans need to relax and know that this team is gearing up for a big postseason push. Expect guys like Rizzo, Bryant and Russell to get days off throughout the next five weeks to keep their legs as fresh as possible heading into October. Expect the rotation to get shuffled a little bit as Maddon lines up his rotation for the playoffs. Most of all, though, expect the Cubs to still provide us with some fun memories as we draw closer and closer to the postseason.
Regardless of the end result this year, this is the best Cubs team of the last 50 years. Even if they don’t finish with more wins than prior teams, the talent level on this team right now surpasses anything 1984, 89, 98, 2003, 07, or 08 produced. This is the most fun I’ve ever had watching a pro sports team, and I can’t wait to see what happens come October 7. I hope that most Cubs fans share these sentiments as well.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to check out the other blogs I’ve posted, and stay tuned as I go more in-depth on all the things going on in the sports world. This is Game of Sports.