The Cubs Know How to Win, Which Is Cool


That was Jon Lester’s effusive response when asked what makes his current winning clubhouse such a special one. He also referred to Wade Davis as both a bad mother—— and bad sumbitch and said that the young guys on the team were great because they “didn’t give a [poop].” The veteran pitcher’s drunken shenanigans were particularly hilarious because they came in the wake of a game that was anything but fun.

The champagne-and-beer shower in the clubhouse may have been an act of celebration, but it also served to douse the flames of anxiety that had been licking up Cubs fandom’s collective throat for the previous five hours like the world’s worst case of acid reflux. The defending World Series champs had removed little bits of our souls with surgical precision over the course of the contest, promising that we’d get them back.

I’m reasonably sure all of mine was returned, but the remaining portion had grown old and weathered in the meantime. In a way, though, that’s what we’ve seen with this team over the last three seasons. As much as the superlatives might like to say otherwise, this isn’t a roster filled with anointed golden boys who ascended to this point unchallenged.

Whether you rankle at the antiquated notion of the Cubs as lovable losers or not, the fact remains that the organization really didn’t know how to win. There hadn’t been much precedent for it, so how could they? Now, however, they’ve turned the old trope on its ear. Not only are the Cubs expected to win, but they actually know how to.

They’ll open their third consecutive NLCS on Saturday in LA, a concept I find myself grappling with even now. Like, it’s easy when your team sucks. Sure, you can say it’s tough, but you tell me how much you actually enjoyed watching that Game 5 Thursday night. The winning, however, the winning makes it pretty cool.

It’s also cool that these guys seem to get it, to understand what they signed up for or were brought into when they joined the Cubs. That’s probably my fandom getting the best of me or whatever, but it feels right and I’m going to run with it. Then you’ve got the cats in the front office who told us all exactly what they were going to do.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer laid out a goal and showed us the map they were following to get there. I still laugh when I think back to my time writing for Yahoo’s Contributor Network and the frequent commenter who always referred to “Theo the Liar.” I wonder what that guy is spouting from behind his University of Michigan avatar these days. Probably much of the same.

Enough of that, let’s get back to my point, which is that this organization knows what it’s doing all the way through. And what it’s doing is winning. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always fun, but it’s pretty trippy to wake up in the morning and be like, Wow, being a Cubs fan means going to the NLCS every year now.

That must be how it used to feel for Cardinals fans, except without the whole “right way” fetish.

I don’t know how the Cubs will do against the Dodgers, I only know that they’ve got an opportunity to do something special yet again. Nah, that’s not quite right; this Cubs team has already done something special. Now it’s simply a matter of trying to make it specialer.

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