Ernie Banks passed away, and I can’t think of a person the baseball world could lose where it would be a bigger deal — with the possible exception of Willie Mays or maybe Yogi Berra. But follow the bouncing ball here for a second:
- The Cubs only won 73 games last year, but they’ve been trending up each season for the past 2-3.
- They went out and got their ace in Jon Lester.
- They went out and got Joe Maddon, who previously turned Tampa Bay into an AL pennant winner.
- They have Theo Epstein, who of course is associated with the ’04 Sox finally doing it.
- The NL Central has some good teams, yes, but you can win it with the lowest amount of wins of any NL division, generally speaking.
- Now they have a major death storyline to propel them through an entire season; this has worked before in several sports.
The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Theodore Roosevelt was President. For context, he’s been dead since 1919.
I’m not saying this is the year — there are a lot of better teams out there than the current Chicago Cubs, to be sure — but if this was the year and journalists could run to their laptops and bang out “… Ernie Banks, guardian angel…” stories, would it surprise you that much, given the overall history and lineage of that franchise?
Many people have thought of this Cubs-WS narrative, and most admit it’s a mistake. I do too. But there’s something in me about how storylines tend to unfold, and how the human brain loves to process them, and some crazy manager and new ace and a bunch of young bucks and Let’s Play Two is now in heaven, and … well, look, it’s a long shot, but …
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(Wrong team, I know. But hey, it could happen.)