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Diamonds Dancing: 2017 Chicago Cubs looking for repeat

Robert Aguirre, Sports editor

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“This is gonna be a tough play, Bryant, the Cubs win the World Series!” The famous line said by Fox reporter Joe Buck as Miguel Martinez grounded out to Kris Bryant.

For us Cubs fans, it’s been a long time since we have been able to say our team is the World Series champions. 108 long years. Think about it, zippers, FM radio, sliced bread, traffic signs, and even Wrigley Field didn’t exist. Theodore Roosevelt was president. So much has changed since. To see the Cubs be World Series champions is so surreal. Every single person will remember the exact place they were when that ball hit Anthony Rizzo in the glove for the last out.

This season the Cubs will have a new mindset, repeat. All these past years the Cubs had the goal of getting to the World Series and just to get better, they were everyone’s “lovable losers”. Now after winning the title, they’re at the top of the league and every team is coming after them, hoping to decrown them as the champs.

The Cubs opened the season as the favorites to win the 2017 World Series at 7-2 odds, even though they lost some key parts. The departures of Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman, Jorge Soler, and David Ross looked like it would hurt the Cubs. Fowler had been a key part on the Cubs the past two seasons, batting leadoff and commanding center field, and also being a really great teammate. Chapman was acquired last season, at the trade deadline, to prove the Cubs were serious about getting to the World Series, he had been the most intimidating closer in all of baseball since he came to the bigs. Soler has always been a big power threat since he got called up, he was a liability in the field but his bat was always something other teams feared. Ross was just the perfect clubhouse guy, he only joined the team two years ago with Jon Lester, but every Cubs fan took him in as their own and, I mean, he’s everyone’s favorite grandpa.

Even with all of these departures, the Cubs did good this offseason with some nice acquisitions. Wade Davis, Jon Jay, Koji Uehara, and Brett Anderson. The Cubs acquired Davis from the Royals in exchange for Soler. Although Davis missed the 2016 season due to injury, when he’s healthy he’s one of the best closers in the league. Jay was signed to a one year deal with the Cubs to be a backup outfielder that will play every other day, he is no Fowler but he is a solid backup center fielder that can hit the ball well. Uehara was signed to a one year deal to be a setup man to Davis. He had come to the US a couple years ago after spending 12 years in Japan. He’s known for being someone who makes the hitters miss with lots of movement, he won’t overpower anyone but he’ll get the job done. Anderson was signed to a one year deal as well. After spending a couple years on the Los Angeles Dodgers and being hurt often, they decided to let him walk. When healthy, Anderson is a very good pitcher and that is what the Cubs are hoping for.

One of the biggest surprises of Spring Training was when skipper Joe Maddon announced that outfield Kyle Schwarber will be batting leadoff.  Schwarber is not your prototypical leadoff hitter. When you think of a leadoff man, you think of someone who gets on base a lot, someone who runs fast, and someone who doesn’t really hit for power. Schwarber is almost the exact opposite, yes he does get on base a lot but he isn’t very fast and he has all of the power in the world. One of the biggest reasons for him hitting leadoff on the Cubs is because of how disciplined he is as a hitter, he doesn’t chase bad pitches, he makes the pitchers work until he gets a pitch he likes, which is exactly what you want your leadoff guy to do.

One thing lots of Cubs fans are hoping for is the resurgence of Jason Heyward’s bat. Last season was the worst of Heyward’s career, hitting wise, batting only .230 on the season which was the worst since his second season. During the offseason he worked a lot with Rizzo on his hitting, almost trying to make his stance identical to his and to start off this season you already see lots of improvement in his swing. Hitting the ball for not only contact but also some power. Having his bat in the lineup, even if he only ends up hitting .250 on the season, will be huge for the Cubs.

One of the biggest names you heard during the offseason was second baseman Javier Baez. This man was busy. Leading his country Puerto Rico to the championship of the World Baseball Classic by hitting over .400 in the tournament. Javy is one of the Cubs who likes to be in the spotlight, when the big moment comes, he shows up. One of the biggest things he is known for is the amazing tags he places on people when they try to steal second base. The one during the World Baseball Classic when Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina threw it to Javy and he started to celebrate before he even placed the tag is the moment he is most known for over the offseason. Many baseball experts believe that this is the year that Javy takes the next step and becomes a star.

To begin the season, the Cubs look like they haven’t missed a step. After the first week of the season, they were 4-2. Kris Bryant started the season 0-13 from the plate but he finally started to get back to his true self, going 7-13 in his next thirteen at-bats.

The moment every single Cubs fan waited for was on April 10, 2017, banner night. It was a rainy night in the city but the stadium was packed with fans so anxious to see that championship banner be raised. First the Cubs raised their 1907 and 1908 championship banners that never were flying in Wrigley before. Cubs greats Ryne Sandberg and Fergie Jenkins raised the two banners. Then Billy Williams raised the National League banner right before the entire 2016 Chicago Cubs roster raised the World Series banner and the stadium erupted. It was quite a sight to see. As soon as they finished raising the banner, Rizzo came from the new bullpen under the bleachers with the trophy in his hands high above his head. As a Cubs fan, it was the most perfect thing you could see. To top it all off, Rizzo got the game winning hit later that night to seal the win. On April 12 the Cubs received their championship rings, which will have 108 diamonds, no surprise there.

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Diamonds Dancing: 2017 Chicago Cubs looking for repeat