This piece originally appeared on the main site as a part of a series that previews each team with the question “How will this team be remembered?”
No Cubs team will operate under the same paradigm ever again. Even so, what future teams will be remembered for is still probably failure. But like an inverse of the old reality, the brand of failure will be different. Before the World Series championship, each year’s team was another tally in the succession of losers. Now the expectations are still for a World Series ring, but to add a tally to an eventual dynasty rather than to quench a century.
The 2017 Cubs may trail the Dodgers in PECOTA’s projections, but a) it’s March and b) try telling the fans who still seem to be clearing out of the Grant Park championship celebration that their team isn’t going to snag the elusive back-to-back titles. This optimism comes in part from the generations of romantics and their once-impotent hope finally coming to fruition, but also in part from pure, pragmatic realism. This team is objectively really good, after all.
How this year’s team will be remembered is the measure of its success. Where another championship is expected, anything less will yield a winter of figuring out what went wrong. Not that much different from winters past, but on the other side of the coin now. Expecting another Cubs championship might seem like Chicago hubris, but the team set to take the field this season possesses many of the same strengths that took them to the summit last fall—depth, pitching health, defense, and a bountiful offense.
To read the rest of the piece, please head over to the main site.