Thursday, September 28, 2023

Still Cursed?


In 2016, everyone took the Cubs' winning of the World Series as the end of their curse. 7 years later, perhaps we were looking at it from the wrong angle. Maybe that outcome, the Cubs finally winning it all and still not being fulfilled by it, and shuttering the core 5 years later, was just...the continuation of the curse.

And I bring this up because the Cubs have rebuilt and were within inches of a playoff berth, and because of a game they should have won a few nights ago, botched by Seiya Suzuki making a boneheaded move in the outfield. And now they're sort of on the outside, fighting to stay in the race as the Marlins are neck and neck and the Reds aren't out of it yet. And of course, the week that their momentum is sputtering and the wild card spot is on the line is also the week where they have to play the Braves and Brewers, two very tough teams. The Braves have been calming down slightly in the leadup to the playoffs, but the Brewers may not be as kind.

And if this rocky finish does them in, it'll be a very disappointing and sad ending to a season that featured so much promise for the Cubs. So many of the pieces that the Cubs gambled on, like Bellinger, Stroman, Swanson, Nico Hoerner as a leading man and Adbert Alzolay in the ninth, exceeded expectations. Even with Bellinger probably leaving town after the season, the Cubs now have a working closer, a Cy Young-contending starter to build around, a really impressive lineup of people who aren't going anywhere, and faith in David Ross restored [as it should be]. And I really thought that at their height, the Cubs were a playoff team.

I think one of those indicators was Yan Gomes, who has always been helpful on competitive squads when he's surging. Gomes, who was supposed to back up Tucker Barnhart this year, had his best season since Washington, and is hitting .272 with 57 RBIs. He has been way more reliable as a starting catcher than anyone could have thought, especially in the wake of Contreras' departure. Obviously he's not the definitive answer going forward, and Miguel Amaya has been a decent backup, but Gomes thrives on teams like this, and if they somehow hold on and make it to October, he could be a big help. Same with people like Kyle Hendricks and Christopher Morel, two guys who could be dangerous this postseason.

It just comes down to whether or not the Cubs can get through this week. There's a chance they do, and prevail over Miami and Cincinnati, but it's not going to be easy for them. Still hoping they make it through though, they'll be fun in October.

Coming Tomorrow- Another team on the razor's edge of the playoff race, similarly faced with a tough final lap.

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