As the final week of the extended 2015 season dragged on, Cubs fans had time to think about what happened this season. And what it was like to ride the emotional roller coaster that was the Postseason.
This was supposed to be the penultimate (or possibly ante-penultimate) year of a transformation of the Cubs from lovable losers (ugh) into perennial contenders. “The plan” that began with the arrival of Theo Epstein a couple years after the Rickettses bought the team meant several years of watching an ever changing roster of players in a half (or less) full Wrigley Field. Starlin Castro is the only remaining player from the 2011 roster with which Epstein started.
As new faces joined the team – especially the remarkable group of rookies this year – things got better, the crowds got bigger, and it was fun to go to the ballpark again. Bryant is a virtual lock for Rookie of the Year, Schwarber became the youngest player to hit 5 post-season home runs, and Addison Russell was a force to be reckoned with at shortstop.
A post-season berth seemed assured by early September, and the Cubs ended up with the third best record in baseball. The wild card game in Pittsburgh (against the team with the 2nd best record in baseball) almost seemed too easy. But the way the Cubs eliminated the Cardinals (baseball’s best record) showed fans what this team could do.
Those fans who were lucky enough to be at Wrigley Field on October 13 know exactly how exhilarating it was as the Cubs became, essentially, champs of the National League Central. Never mind the regular season results. Last Tuesday was the most exciting day I can remember watching a Cubs game in person.
But then, the Mets.
This was going to be the most satisfying trip through the playoffs because the Cubs would have a chance for vindication against not only the Cardinals (mission accomplished), but also the Mets, who many Cubs fans still despise because of 1969.
But while Cubs ace Jake Arrieta seemed to have been stretched to his limit, the Mets pitchers knew exactly how to hold Cubs batters in check. What seemed like a huge strike zone didn’t help, but that was just a minor factor.
The Cubs lead off batter reached base exactly 4 times in 4 games against the Mets. Only two of those runners reached on base hits, and both of them were Jorge Soler who led off the 4th and 8th innings of the season finale with doubles.
Despite what people on social media suggested was being said on TBS, Cubs fans were loud from the start of the game on Wednesday night. But as Mets runs crossed the plate and Cubs futility at the plate continued, disappointment set in and there wasn’t much excitement in the crowd (except the group of Mets fans sitting behind us) until the Cubs managed a couple of runs on a Kris Bryant home run with nobody out in the 8th.
As Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation tweeted, it almost felt like there was a chance for a comeback.
God bless Cubs fans. They’re still clapping. Cheering. Believing. Hoping.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) October 22, 2015
Even in disappointment, there was still a glimmer of hope.
While the Mets celebrated their National League championship, Cubs fans started cheering and chanting “Go Cubs Go”. It wasn’t meant to diminish what the Mets accomplished. It was a show of appreciation for a great season.
Then, this happened:
The comments of the TBS crew in the video above lead into the final emotional swing.
The mantra of Cubs fans seems to always be, “Wait Until Next Year”. It often felt like a cruel joke.
But in a very real sense, despite the disappointing NLCS, next year came this year. It was at least a year earlier than many expected the Cubs to be a team that mattered, and it was indeed a wonderful year of baseball.
But if you think this season was great, well … Wait Until Next Year!
You don’t have to wait until next year for more haiku. Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.