Cleat Geeks

Wrigley Weekly Wrap-up

Last year, the Cubs ended the longest championship drought in professional sports by winning their first World Series since 1908. On Wednesday, they completed the first step to repeat, clinching their second straight National League Central title with a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals. The Cubs now are in the playoffs for the third straight year, something the franchise has not done since 1906-1908. “We did something last year that hasn’t been done in 100-plus years, too,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “It feels good to have sustained success. We want to be identified as one of those teams that you expect to see on the TV in October when you sit down in your easy chair to watch baseball. I think we’re well on our way.” While fans panicked, the team didn’t when they were 5 1/2 games back at the All-Star break. “It wasn’t depressing for me, knowing that you have on paper the best guys, and knowing you have guys with strong character,” Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said. “Once again, credit to the guys. You know how hard it is to repeat. Most World Series teams don’t get back to win their division, and our guys did a great job. They played through a lot of aggravating injuries and distractions, and they came back to win the division.”

The Cubs have posted the best record in the NL since the break at 46-24 and are the first World Series champions to win their division the next season since the 2009 Phillies. “Our guys are good,” Joe Maddon said. “Some of it was health issues. Different guys had been banged up a little. I think mentally, it’s hard to do. It’s a 162-game schedule and people not involved in the industry, it’s hard to comprehend. Baseball is usually viewed as easy to do because you stand around a lot, which is such a bad read on what we do. It’s about failure on a daily basis, it’s about 0-fers, it’s about giving up seven runs in three innings, there’s errors. You have to fight through those things mentally, and I think our guys did a wonderful job.” The Cubs will face the Washington Nationals in the NLDS starting Friday in D.C.

Both Jake Arrieta and Jose Quintana have made their final regular-season starts, and the two will pitch in a sim game on Wednesday at Wrigley Field as the Cubs prep for the National League Division Series. Arrieta’s status for the NLDS remained uncertain because of a hamstring injury sustained September 4th. Joe Maddon was not ready to reveal the Cubs’ NLDS rotation on Saturday. Arrieta has made two abbreviated starts since the September 4th outing and had been scheduled to start Sunday in the regular-season finale, but the Cubs chose to give him time to rest and get treatment. Maddon said they wanted to talk to all of the pitchers before announcing the order. The Cubs will take Monday off, then have workouts both Tuesday and Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Tuesday’s sim game will feature the relievers.

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