Isn’t that the deal, the acknowledged wisdom in professional sports, that a series, even a World Series, is just a hum-drum, business-as-usual exercise until one of the teams wins in the other’s proverbial backyard?
Well, game on then.
The Cubs made that a given in short order Wednesday night … less than 24 hours after being written off for dead by a legion of literary doomsayers led by ESPN’s head of statistical hyperbole.
Yo, might wanna ease up the doomsday talk.
OK, yeah, host Cleveland cruised to a 1-0 series advantage with a convincing 6-0 victory in the opener behind the dynamic pitching duo of Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller. It was a humbling experience for the most potent team in baseball this season.
Fast-forward one day and the Cubs returned the favor, 5-1.
So, now, we’re looking at 1-1 as the series resumes Friday night in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field … with Chicago ready to roll out the National League’s 2016 ERA champ in Kyle Kendrick, a right-hander coming off 7.1 innings of shutout ball his last time out in the NLCS clincher against Los Angeles.
Thing is, with these Cubs, it’s kinda always “game on.” That’s why the rut-roh chatter following Game 1 was premature, if not silly.
They won a major-league best 103 games this year.
They got the best infield in baseball, both offensively and defensively, with twin MVP candidates on the corners in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, a shortstop in Addison Russell who drove in 95 runs and a second baseman in Javier Baez who has stolen the show in the postseason.
Pitching? Yeah, they’re pretty good there, too.
Not only is Kendricks a Cy Young candidate, but so is lefty Jon Lester, who will get another crack the Indians this series, and Jake Arrieta, Game 2’s winner, won the honor last season.
Thing is, while everyone is getting caught up in the Cubs not having won a Series since 1908 or even hosted a Series game since 1945, the current team has nothing – zero, zip, zilch, nada – to do with any of that. It’s here, in this Series, on its own merit … as the best team in baseball this year.
Sure, Cleveland can win it. The Tribe has some special intangible quality surrounding it, too.
But the Cubs are the team to beat here, with or without Kyle Schwarber in the lineup the next three days.