This month has been a brutal stretch for the Cubs. With 30 scheduled games in 30 days, rainouts and delays galore, and a rescheduled day game in Washington D.C. on what would’ve been a much-needed off day Thursday, this team is facing unprecedented scheduling difficulties. And when you consider that Thursday’s make up game is a quick trip, after a night game Wednesday and preceding a day game Friday, and potentially against Max Scherzer? It feels like an unrealistic and impossible circumstance to overcome.
And that’s where the complaining needs to end. Yes, MLB has handled this poorly, and yes, the scheduling does adversely affect the Cubs. But creating conspiracy theories or lamenting that the Cubs suddenly can’t or won’t win the division is misguided. And any potential excuses one conjures up in case the Brewers do catch the Cubs is both lazy and inexcusable.
Y’all Need to Believe in This Team
Since 2015, when this core rose to prominence, the Cubs have won in the regular season when they needed to. That precedence was extended in obvious ways in 2016, and even last year, en route to a second straight division title. This year has certainly witnessed prolonged slumps and uncertainties regarding the roster, yet the Cubs still maintain the best record in the National League.
There’s also precedence in very-recent Cubs history. After dropping the first two games in Milwaukee a week ago, Jose Quintana pitched deep into the game, salvaging a much-needed win — and extending the division lead back to four games. While that game now feels like old news, and while the Cubs lead is at a mere one game after last night’s ugly collapse of a ball game, the takeaway holds: the Cubs win when they need it most. Expect ‘Q’ to be on tonight, much like last week, and expect the Cubs offense to rediscover its potency.
Confidence Isn’t Arrogance
My feelings are not rooted in any sense of entitlement. I don’t believe the Cubs deserve to win simply because of who they are, nor have I let the unbridled success of 2016 sully my fandom. Rather, this team has taught us that they know how to win, that they don’t panic, and with regard to the regular season, there’s no reason not to trust them.
A confidence in this team despite scheduling difficulties, a surging Brewers team with swagger and question marks surrounding the roster isn’t naive, it’s a stabilizing force. This isn’t your 2004 Cubs, who blew their Wild Card chances the last week of the season. For all of the flaws and inconsistencies of this season, this team has yet to provide any reason for disbelief. You see that quiet confidence both on the field and in post-game interviews — this roster carries itself with a belief in its ability to succeed. The fan base should follow suit.
I get there’s no guarantee the Cubs win the division. Milwaukee could very well win this series, and set themselves up for a late run for the division title. Track record and experience matter, however, particularly in a series that exhibits a playoff-like atmosphere. This Cubs team has given every indication they know what’s at stake, however, and they have proven they know how to win.
Jon Lester pitched decent last night, and I admit I expected a bit more. While he demonstrated the intensity we expect from him in these moments, his final line was a bit incomplete — and let’s hope his injury is minimal. He gave the Cubs a chance to win, before Carl Edwards Jr. inexplicably forgot the importance of covering home plate on a wild pitch.
Regardless of what happens tonight and tomorrow, our fan base should be proud of this team. Anything can happen, of course, but the odds are on our side. I sincerely believe the Cubs will win this series. And should the Brewers prove my confidence false, we’ll still win the division. I’ve no reason to believe otherwise, and neither should you.
We are in the midst of the best stretch of baseball in organizational history. Let’s start acting like it.
Follow Austin Bloomberg on Twitter-Feature Photo Credit: Bleed Cubbie Blue
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