Chicago Cubs Team Preview 2017

“Do they still play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around? When the snow melts away do the Cubbies still play in their Ivy covered burial ground?” –chorus from “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request” by Steve Goodman

What are Cubs fans to do with themselves now? Rooting for a team that hasn’t won a World Series in any living Cubs’ fan’s life has always been an essential element of a Cub’s fan’s identity, as much a part of the team’s romantic allure as the ivy clinging to the outfield wall at Wrigley Field or the die-hard Cubs fan’s “wait ‘til next year” cry.

For a few moments after Cleveland Indians center fielder Rajai Davis hit a two-run homer to tie the score at 6-6 in the bottom of the eighth of Game Seven it looked like the Cub’s losing legacy would continue. When it started to rain with the score still tied after nine innings the game took on a supernatural feel similar to W.P. Kinsella’s “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy,” a novel about a 2,000-inning game between a local nine and the 1908 Cubs in the mythical town of Big Inning Iowa played during a torrential downpour.

Woven into the fabric of Cubs fandom generation after generation, so many of the team’s players and fans lived and died without ever seeing the Cubs win or in some cases even play in a World Series. And so when the 2016 Cubs made the team’s first World Series appearance since 1945 and won the Series for the first time since 1908 the resurrected spirits of beloved Cubs players, broadcasters and fans somehow seemed as if they were along for the ride. Old video clips of Harry Cary interviewing Bill Murray before the Cubs first night game at Wrigley Field and Ernie Banks signing “Some Day We’ll Go all the Way,” with Eddie Vedder, and audio clips of Ron Santo or Jack Brickhouse in the broadcast booth and multiple versions of Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” anthem and “A Dying Cubs Fan’s last Request,” resurfaced throughout the team’s pennant race and post season run.

Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo summed up the collective experience on the stage following the victory parade: “For every single person that has worn this jersey I feel like they won this World Series with us,” said Rizzo. With the exception of center fielder Dexter Fowler, almost the entire 2016 World Series champion roster remains intact. The Cubs stand a good chance of returning to the Series just like they did for three years in a row from 1906 – 1908, but this last one is for Ernie and Ronnie and Harry and Jack and Steve Goodman and everyone else who never saw it happen.

Chicago Cubs Prospects to Watch

Second Baseman Ian Happ hit a combined .279 with 15 home runs and 73 RBI in 134 games at single-A Myrtle Beach and AA Tennessee in 2016.