Note: This piece ran was published in The Idaho Statesman today, the opening day of the World Series. A Cleveland Indians fan wrote an opposing view.
The Cubs will win the World Series.
In most years, that would be a rash if not absurd prediction.
This year is different.
This year’s Cubs are different. They won 103 games during the regular season, the best record in either league. They have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, one of the best bullpens, some great defensive players and some of the game’s best young hitters.
Several years ago, I had lunch with one of my childhood heroes. Bob King – he was known as Bobby King then – was a standout player for the Boise Braves, a Milwaukee Braves minor league team. He’s been a scout for the Houston Astros for over 25 years, and over lunch that day he told me about a young player he tried to sign for the Astros.
“He’s the best pure hitter I’ve ever seen,” King said.
This from a guy who has seen them all, in a career spanning more than six decades.
The player is now Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, last year’s National League rookie of the year and a contender for the league’s most valuable player award this year. Bryant’s signing, combined with other moves by Cubs President Theo Epstein, kindled hope in my futility-battered heart that after years of disappointment, things might actually be changing for the Cubs. The curse might be broken, the heartbreak at an end.
A visit to Wrigley Field in September confirmed that. At others games I’ve attended there, the atmosphere was one of gritty pessimism. Even when the Cubs were doing well and the mood was buoyant, there was a sense that the sky could, and probably would, fall tomorrow.
The September visit couldn’t have been more different. New spirits are afoot at Wrigley. It was like being at a party with 41,000 optimistic friends. Even with the Cubs trailing for most of the game, the fans were uncharacteristically confident that they’d win.
And they did.
And who are they playing in their first World Series of my lifetime?
The Indians! It’s perfect. A Series for the ages, the curse broken at last.
The Cubs will win it all.
And if not, there’s always next year.