Chicago, home of the Willis Tower, deep dish pizza and Wrigley Field, has played the role of host to numerous championship parades since 1909. Just none of them have celebrated a Cubs championship. The Cubs, affectionately called the Lovable Losers, have not won a World Series since 1908. For reference, that is more than twice as long as Cleveland's 51 year year drought, stretching from 1964 through this past June, when the Cavaliers made the largest comeback in NBA Finals history. From the notorious curse of the billy goat to the infamous Steve Bartman incident, the Cubs have found more ways to lose than win. All of their history begs the question: can the Cubs ever win it all?
This year, the Cubs have had the best record in the majors since the All-Star break, and have constructed what is considered to be the best team in the league. From MVP favorite Kris Bryant to surprise Cy Young contender Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs have gotten contributions up and down their roster. Manager Joe Maddon, owner of three Manger of the Year awards, has lead the team to consecutive 90 win seasons for the first time since 1929-1930. The entire starting infield of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Kris Bryant are all under 26, and no player in the starting lineup is over 31 outside of utility man Ben Zobrist. The young talent of position players has allowed the team to place third in the majors in runs scored, while the veteran-filled starting rotation lead by reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta has paced the MLB in era. Theo Epstein, the curse-busting wizard most famous for breaking the Red Sox 86 year championship drought, is the man to credit for gathering all this talent under the one proverbial roof that is the Cubs' clubhouse. His history suggests that the Cubs might actually be able to win the whole thing.
The best way to define the 2016 season for the Cubs is "cruise control". Only one day (one day in a 162 game season) have the Cubs been out of first place of the NL Central- during game five of the season, when they lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now, with the Cardinals loss on Thursday night, the Cubs have assured themselves they will remain in first place for the remainder of the season, as they became the fifth fastest team to clinch their division since 1990. As an added bonus, their playoff schedule lacks any daunting challenge until the championship series. With a bye from the wild card game because they won the NL Central, the Cubs would have to face the reeling Giants (who have the worst record in the MLB since the All-Star break) and the depleted Mets (who have only two members of their Opening Day rotation remaining), the division series seems like a lock. And with either the fragile Dodgers or Stephen Strasburg-less Nationals in the championship series, the Cubs have their path to their first World Series appearance since 1945. With the roster in place, and the experience from last year's Cinderella run to the National League Championship Series, the North Siders have the team to defy history. Now the only question that remains: is the weight of 108 years too much to overcome?