By Mike Ferris
If there was ever a year for the Chicago Cubs to snap the curse, this is it.
The curse has kept the Cubs from winning a World Series since 1908.
The last legitimate chance Chicago had ended in infamy in 2003, when Steve Bartman interfered with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou.
The interference prevented Alou from making a game-changing catch and the Marlins would go on to score eight runs in the eighth inning, costing the Cubs the game and ultimately the series.
The Marlins went on to win the World Series that year 4-2 over the Yankees and many Cubs’ fans can’t help but think their destiny would’ve been the same.
The Cubs have been in the playoffs twice since then and have been swept in the Divisional Round both times.
This year appears to be different. With just two weeks left to play in the regular season, the Cubs have stretched their wild card lead to eight games over the Giants and are all but a lock to get into the playoffs this year.
While it currently sits in the second wild card spot, Chicago is one of the hottest teams in baseball right now and is making a serious push at the first wild card spot and home-Feld advantage in the Wild Card Game.
With their win Thursday, the Cubs took three of four from Pittsburgh and now sit only two back for the first wild card position.
With Chicago as hot as it is, winning 10 of its last 14, and Pittsburgh as depleted as it is, especially after losing rookie shortstop, Jung Ho Kang, it appears more and more realistic that Chicago will win the wild card.
The Cubs are not just good enough to claim the wild card this year, but they are truthfully good enough to win the World Series.
Led by Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Chris Coghlan the Cubs’ offense has hit 158 homeruns this year and scored 614 runs, and is surely good enough to score runs in October.
But everyone knows that the most important thing in the playoffs is pitching and Chicago doesn’t lack in this department.
The Cubs acquired Jon Lester and Jason Hammel in the off season and they have both been solid, but the third pitcher that will anchor this possible three- man stand in the playoffs has not just been solid but the best pitcher in baseball this year.
Jake Arrieta is 19-6 with a 1.96 ERA this year and dominated again in his last start Wednesday, pitching 8.0 innings while allowing two runs, only one of which was earned.
This veteran pitching stand and young offense is destined for a big run, but what has made this all possible is an off season move to acquire manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon went to Chicago from Tampa Bay and knows how to win, especially in October, a mentality the Cubs were in desperate need of.
The loose, easy-going manager that Maddon is allows this group of kids to have fun and just play ball.
Chicago not only has a shot to win the World Series this year but, ought to be considered the favorite to represent the National League in the Fall Classic.
As a Red Sox fan, understanding the Curse, living through some of it and watching others truly suffer as a result of it, I can’t help but pull for these “love- able losers” in Chicago, and truly feel that this is the year for the Cubs.
Maybe “Back to the Future” was right, 2015 is the Cubs’ year.