Packer fans, I’m sorry for your loss. Life isn’t fair and Sunday night’s game was an example of that. But it’s only the second game of the season. So we are are going to move on to the big news in the world of sport. The Chicago Cubs have advanced to the National League playoffs in Major League Baseball.
The Cubs will play the winner of the wild card race in October.
Sure, the Cubs made it to the playoffs last year, but in a tradition that goes back 108 years, they choked.
Last year’s team was so good, though, that the Cubs were picked to win the World Series at the beginning of this season. They have dominated this year, and have been in first place since April.
As a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan, I was skeptical. Hope springs eternal on the North Side of Chicago. Every spring, Cubs fans speak as if they are in a collective dream of pennants and champagne. These dreams turn into nightmares by July’s all star break.
This year, however, IS different. The Chicago Cubs are the Real Deal.
General Manager Theo Epstein is part miracle worker and part data nerd. Epstein came in with a blueprint for success, having engineered a World Series win for those other lovable losers, the Boston Red Sox.
The Cubs winning season is due to several factors. Epstein put a long-term plan in place that included improved scouting,data crunching, stronger farm teams, lucky last minute trades, amazing young pitchers, a grizzled veteran catcher, and a mystical coach right out of a baseball movie, a coach who says zen koans like “Embrace the target.”
All of this makes me think it wasn’t a curse that kept the Cubs out of contention for a century. It was simply bad management. What if bad management, along with a lack of investment, caused all the losing? Well, that changes the narrative, doesn’t it? Can’t blame a goat for bad scouting, but the curse of the Bambino is a great story and photo op.
The Cubs were once owned by the Tribune Company, publishers of the Chicago Tribune and other Chicago media properties, including radio and television channels. In a way, the Cubs were sort of a vanity project that produced lots of content for its owner’s multimedia platforms. The Tribune didn’t put the time or effort in to improve the team, or even Wrigley Field.
Times have changed. The Tribune fell apart and now it’s the media’s turn to be the vanity projects of wealthy individuals.