That’s how long the Cubs and its fans will have to wait until game 1 of the NLDS is upon us on October 7.
That’s also how long Cubs fans can appreciate what they’ve seen from their beloved North Siders so far this season. By clinching the NL Central Thursday, the Cubs became the 5th quickest team to clinch their division in the Wild Card era (since 1996).
It’s not just the fact the Cubs clinched the division, but it’s the way they did it. It started day 1, a 9-0 Cubs victory over Anaheim, and kept on rolling from there. Even losing, arguably, their best hitter in Kyle Schwarber in the third game of the season didn’t deter the Cubs from going on a magical run Cubs fans all across the world won’t soon forget.
A 25-6 start didn’t help calm the already massive expectations on them coming into the season, and barring a stretch from late June to early July where the team “struggled,” they have been the class of the National League.
The incredible season has led to the blossoming of stars all across the diamond. The Cubs, in all likelihood, have the MVP (Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo), the Cy Young Award winner (Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks or Jake Arrieta), and at least two gold glovers (Addison Russell and Jason Heyward) all on the roster. Not to mention guys like Dexter Fowler, Javier Baez and Wilson Contreras all having fantastic seasons in “supporting roles.” You can easily argue that while Bryant will win league MVP, the MVP of the Cubs this season has been Fowler.
Also, to all the people who believe managers or coaches don’t do anything in sports: look what Joe Maddon is doing with this team. All 25 guys on the main roster have played and contributed in ways nobody could’ve expected. From Kris Bryant to Albert Almora, every Cubs player has had an impact on the roster, and it can mostly be traced back to Maddon. No offense to any other manager in the league, but Maddon is the cream of the crop when it comes to handling both the younger and older talent on the roster (SEE: Ross, David).
The best part of this season, though, is how much fun it seems this group of players is having. In previous seasons, it seems as if the pressure of the curse would get in the minds of the players, especially in 2008 with it being the 100-year anniversary of the last World Series win for Chicago. When you watch these guys play, though, they seem to be genuinely having a fun time. It’s an incredible mix of young talent and veteran leadership that has blended together to create one of the most Chicago sports teams to ever watch, regardless of sport.
In short, this team has done it all so far this season. With a 93-53 victory, all they have to do is go 7-9 down the stretch to record the first 100-win season for a Cubs team since 1935.
BUT… none of this all matters without a championship ring. Everyone associated with the Cubs, whether it be the front office, managers, or fans, knows this. While the 2016 team will always be remembered for being a fun team to watch, not hoisting the Commissioner’s trophy at the end of the season will feel disappointing.
This team, though, isn’t afraid of no goat, or a black cat, or a dude named Steve. They openly embrace the challenge of winning a World Series for the Cubs, hence the “Embrace the target” shirts Maddon made at the beginning of the season. Their confidence has rubbed off on the entire fan base, making Cubs fans more confident than ever that finally this may be the year.
We don’t know what’ll happen starting 504 hours from now. What we do know, though, is that the Cubs have taken us on a beautiful ride this year and I cannot wait for October 7.
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.