“Wait till next year.”
It’s a phrase the devoted fan base of the Chicago Cubs has been muttering for generations in regards to its beloved, but star-crossed franchise, an expression as common as the team’s seemingly never-ending reign of failure during the early fall months.
Last year was supposed to be the year for the Cubs, and appeared so as they led the National League with 97 wins.
The playoffs were another matter, however, and Chicago’s shocking sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers in October’s NL Division Series took its place in the club’s dubious history.
While it’s easy to be skeptical about the chances of a team that last won a world championship 101 years ago and last played in a World Series in 1945, it’s just as hard to ignore the potential the 2009 Cubs possess. A fearsome lineup that easily led the NL in runs scored a year ago was made even more formidable with the signing of right fielder Milton Bradley. The starting pitching cast of Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and B.C.’s Ryan Dempster and Rich Harden is as good a foursome as there is in the game right now, provided the oft-injured Harden can make it through the season pain free.