You’ve really got to hand it to the Chicago Cubs. With the weight of 108 years on their shoulders, they could have easily crumbled under the expectations, especially after falling behind to the Dodgers and Indians in back-to-back series.
“That was huge,” Bleacher Report MLB columnist Seth Gruen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Look, I’ve seen time and time again the moment be so much bigger than Cubs teams, and this year, they were able to overcome adversity. Down a game in the NLCS, down three games to one in this World Series. I think that’s a credit to Joe Maddon. If you’re in Wrigley Field and things aren’t going well, you can sense the tension. I’ve covered a lot of games in a lot of stadiums, and it’s unlike anything else when things aren’t going well. And players are human; they can sense that. So I think they did a great job of just sort of ignoring the last 108 years. I thought it was a huge reason they were able to persevere.”
In a way, that all started with the run in 2003, when the Cubs brought in several free agents in an attempt to reverse the curse.
“I think after (2003), the expectations were sort of raised,” Gruen said. “People sort of said to themselves, ‘This really is a big-market team. This is a team that can compete, that can go out and get players.’ Do Cubs fans expect to win the World Series next year because of what Theo Epstein has done? And Theo gets all the credit in the world, but yeah, absolutely. This is the most talented team in baseball. There’s no question they should be World Series contenders year in and year out, and if they don’t win it, they’re underperforming; they’ve underwhelmed. So yeah, I think the identity has changed. Is it arrogance? I don’t necessarily think it’s arrogance; I just think it’s reality. This team is more talented right now that any other organization in baseball.”