Yawn. I am neither surprised nor upset. We'll be back... and back.... and back....
It's been seventeen years since a team repeated as world champions and twenty-five years since the time before that.
Since the Yankees repeated seventeen years ago only two teams have appeared in the World Series in consecutive years. Fewer than half have even made the playoffs the following year. On the average, world champions have a winning percentage the following year of .538. That two rather mediocre San Francisco Giants teams won two World Series in three years in 2010 and 2012 was something of a fluke. In fact, this year's Cub team is only the second defending World Series champion to win its own division the following year in the last fifteen seasons!
I have believed that the Cubs' bullpen was a disaster waiting to happen for several years. Frankly, we got lucky last year. Not surprisingly, our bats weren't what they should have been this year, and the weakness was exposed, especially in the playoffs. We should have broken the bank to keep Dexter Fowler, who was the lynchpin of our everyday lineup last year and the leadoff man we so conspicuously lacked this season. Except it wouldn't have helped. Fowler also had a bad season with the Cardinals this year!
Last year we were the best team in the majors. This year, the Dodgers were. It is, to borrow a term from the historic Communion liturgy of the Western Church, "meet, right and salutary" that the Dodgers are going to the World Series. If things go as they should, they will play the Astros in a relatively rare phenomenon in the modern era: a World Series between the two teams which are actually the best in each league.
Of all the heartbreaks I've experienced as a Cub fan since 1969, this is the easiest for me to bear. In fact, for me at least, it's relatively painless because I've expected it all along, and also because it's only right that the National League should be represented in the World Series by its best team. That team wasn't the Cubs this year. It was the Dodgers. Congratulations are both due and extended to them.
Having finally won last year helps. So does the knowledge that we have Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer running things, and that they will be determined to move heaven and earth to get back to the top. In my view, this will be tough to do next year unless we re-sign Jake Arrieta, but I have absolute confidence in Jedstein to do all that humanly can be done.
Next year's team will, in any case, be both rested and motivated. And we retain one of the three or four best cores of any team in The Show. All things considered, the Cubs have good reason to be proud of the season just ended, and we fans have every reason to be optimistic about the future.I don't know off hand how many teams have made it to three consecutive LCS's in the modern era, but it's not many.
Dave Roberts had a sign in the Dodgers' clubhouse during this series which read, "End the Cubs." They may have succeeded in winning the Series, but they totally failed in that. We'll be back next year and for many, many years to come. And the most brilliant executive and most motivated ownership in modern baseball history will not rest until we're world champions again.
And again. And again.