Historically, the Chicago Cubs are strangers to the postseason. Now, imagine the Cubs as the favorites to win the World Series. That is a far cry from what the organization and fans are used to. Is it true? Are the Cubs the favorites to win it all?
According to USA Today, the Cubs are a 5-2 favorite in the eyes of the people at Las Vegas Superbook. That is the reward for defeating a veteran St. Louis Cardinals team 3-1 in a best of five series. The betting world was on to something because coming into the season Las Vegas was high on the “lovable losers” from the start.
The city of Chicago had hopes that a young team could make some noise during the season, but letdowns of past postseasons have kept some fans uncertain what to expect. Rightfully so. The Cubs are the team who is supposedly cursed.
Billy Goats and Steve Bartman are among many reasons, or excuses if you will, for the explanation as to why the Cubs have not reached Major League Baseball’s holy grail. That and the fact that there has been some terrible Cubs teams in the past seasons.
Being bad has helped put the Cubs in the position to be where they are today. It took a few terrible seasons in order to be able to draft Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber. Smart trades by the front office made up of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
This season, even Chicago Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts is a believer in the team’s chances (via CSN Chicago).
“I feel like we’re the team this year. We’re young. We’re playing well. Everybody’s loose. Joe (Maddon) has got everyone believing. That’s all you need. Every year, there’s that one team that has the momentum.”
“This year, why not us?”
One trade led to the arrival of first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Cy Young frontrunner Jake Arrieta was acquired in a trade. As was shortstop Addison Russell, pitcher Jason Hamels, and catcher Miguel Montero. Starlin Castro, who just two months ago switched positions, was one of the few holdovers from the previous Cubs’ regime. That regime has almost been completely eliminated from the franchise.
The Cubs’ biggest addition has been the hiring of Joe Maddon as manager. Nothing against Rick Renteria, the previous Cubs skipper, but the difference between the two of them are night and day. Night and day translates into wins and losses, and wonderfully played baseball.
There are so many reasons why a baseball fan to like the Chicago Cubs. This is why Las Vegas odds-makers were quick to anoint them as the favorites to win the World Series.
The Cubs are the favorites to win it all, but can they do it?
Matchups matter just as much as the talent on the field. How does the Cubs matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets?
In seven games, the Cubs have had trouble with the Dodgers. They lost the season series 3-4. What the Cubs did accomplish was that they got to Clayton Kershaw. Very few teams roughed up Kershaw, another Cy Young candidate, during the regular season. Traveling out to the west coast may not help the Cubs much. They lost two out of three games in Los Angeles. The last game was the scene for Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter on ESPN television August 30th.
Arrieta’s dominant night set the tone for the rest of the Cubs’ season. The Cubs were on center stage then. That game put them in the minds of fans throughout the country. Not that the Cubs needed any attention. The season began with a question about whether or not they should have Kris Bryant start with the team on opening day.
As for the matchup with the New York Mets, the Cubs have not lost in seven games. That said, the team that the Cubs swept are not the same team that are staring at Game 5 in the NLDS.
Slugger Yoenis Cespedes, a late-season addition, was not with the Mets during the time that the Cubs played them. The hitters did not fare well against the Cubs. With a regular season record of 97-65, not a lot of teams could say their hitters did well versus the Cubs.
These young hitters on the Cubs and the pitching brilliance of Jake Arrieta have been the story all season. Having them as the World Series favorites makes sense at this point. Everyone seems unfazed by the bright lights and big stage. This is the baseball playoffs, the young Cubs hitters are supposed to be nervous, one would think.
In the NLDS, when the Cardinals struck, the Cubs hit harder, rising to each challenge. Can they continue to ride this wave? Las Vegas thinks so. Their 5-2 odds suggest that the Chicago Cubs are the favorites to win it all.
[Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images Sport]