The Guide for Being an Honorary Cubs Fan in 2016

Welcome! Come one, come all. You’d think the bandwagon is full by now, but we life-long Cubs fans are happy to have you aboard. Truthfully, we are so happy there is a bandwagon because people don’t bandwagon for teams that go 62-100 or whatever the Twins ended up at this year. I stated last year that that team was my favorite incarnation of the Cubs in my lifetime. Well, hoo boy, 2016 knocked that out of the water. And now I am here to help you, person who maybe doesn’t really follow sports but likes to feel good random baseball fan understand WHY the Cubs are the team to love. Who are these fine gentlemen and Aroldis Chapman? What makes them tick? What special things that only watching 162 games can teach you should you be on the lookout for? Buckle up, everyone. Because full or not, a Cubs bandwagon is bound to get a little bumpy.

  1. This year, the Cubs were in first place for every single day of the season, I believe but am too lazy to look up because you’re not here for analysis, you’re here for unadulterated Cubs homerism. It truthfully felt like we won 40 games in April. There was no yelling in texts with my dad. We didn’t have to pretend like we respected the Pirates for their grittiness or the Cardinals for being life-sucking trolls their consistency. We the fans sat back almost from day one…
  2. …though HulkSmash (Kyle Schwarber) got hurt on day 3. The Cubs lost a major power bat on day three of the season, blinked, played a tribute video to that time he destroyed a baseball in the playoffs last year, and moved on as though we had planned to play without him the entire year. This had another effect:
  3. The Cubs were the number one defensive team in baseball this year. What’s that? You don’t think defense is sexy? I mean, I used to agree…  Shame on you. Their defense is so good that all five Cubs starters were in the top 15 in ERA. And let me tell you a little bit about these pitchers, man. What a collection of personalities!
  4. Just kidding. They are so freaking serious that it almost hurts. Kyle Hendricks came into the season as our fifth starter and ended as the Most Likely to Win the Cy Young. If this was a romantic comedy, he would be the girl-they’re-pretending-is-ugly-who-just-needs-to-comb-her-hair-to-become-homecoming-queen. At least, if that girl pitched extremely carefully, hitting the corner of the plate with regularity, breaking hearts bats, and generally being “the consummate professional” which is baseball talk for “we’re not sure if he has a personality.”
  5. He went to an Ivy League school so obviously they call him The Professor. This is true as long as no professor at an Ivy League school ever smiles (probably true) and appears to hate talking (probably not true).  But seriously. If we win the World Series, he will probably clap twice, give an OK sign with his hand, and then retreat to his apartment to organize his socks.
  6. Jon Lester is still around and is incapable of smiling.  (Just like throwing to first base! He is still incapable of that! That doesn’t bother me at all! I do not lament this every game! It’s totally fine! Who needs to throw to first base?)  He’s our resident lefty (WHICH SHOULD MAKE IT EVEN EASIER TO THROW TO FIRST BASE BUT DOES NOT) and has had a fabulous year, really. And I should know. Because even though I don’t love watching him pitch, I managed to catch almost every one of his starts, just by happenstance.  I’m so lucky!  He’s our Game 1 starter which makes all the fans who focus way too much on money me pretty happy.  Good luck, Jon!  Every hope and dream I have starts with you.  No big deal!
  7. Jake Arrieta comes next. The guy who broke every record known to man last year is our Game 3 starter. Jake has been a little inconsistent this year. And by “inconsistent” I mean “not other-worldly which makes him seem a little inconsistent to crazed Cubs fans.”  Did you know that both lefties and rights are batting under .190 against him? Do you know that is actually other-worldly?  He’s such a workout freak so if things get a little tense during the game, instead of having another beer, just try to get yourself into this pose:         If they win the whole thing, I hope that man never has to pay for another kale protein shake in his life.
  8. Then there’s John Lackey.  I am secretly just waiting for John Lackey to turn into an angry pumpkin his playoff self and mow down batters the way he has for 14 years. He has pitched in two clinching World Series games. You are going to hear a lot about this.  Like a lot.  As though that’s supposed to be reassuring.  John Lackey also pitched for the Cardinals last year so we’re still not sure how much we trust him but we are trying. He’s a “veteran presence” for the youngsters.  Veteran presence = old.  He’s our Game 4 starter.
  9. Just kidding. There’s not going to be a Game 4 in the NLDS.  Who on earth is gonna beat those first three? NO ONE, I say.
  10. I’d like to pause here for a second and make sure everyone is aware of how magical for my pulse rate and blood pressure it is to not have to play in the Wild Card game this year. Moving on…
  11. Now meet our probable lineup!  No worries.  It’s the lineup of death for other teams’ pitchers. There is no easy out except for Miguel Montero and every player managed to do some sort of outstanding thing this season. I love them. They are so pretty. **makes kissing sound**
  12. Also they appear to have the POLAR OPPOSITE personality structure of our pitching staff. I can hardly find pictures of any of them not smiling so sorry for everyone who wants their athletes to be war-like in their anticipation of battle super serious. Who doesn’t love people who smile?  (Answer: THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS AND CARDINAL FANS)
  13.  Leading off, Dexter Fowler. Dexter wasn’t supposed to be on this team this year but late in February, he just showed up in Cubs camp and people rejoiced and the only negative stretch of games we had this season came when he was injured. “You go, we go” is what Joe Maddon tells him all the time. And it is TRUE.
  14.   Batters 2 and 3: Bryzzo. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. They are bros. They are the types of bros that you would probably hate if they were in a frat on campus who still believed in toga parties, but they are also delightful young men. (I spent most of the year hoping against hope that we wouldn’t find out one of them was voting for Trump. Success!) Here is the truth of the matter: If the Cubs win, it will be because Kris Bryant has beautiful eyes gets on base and Anthony Rizzo volunteers at children’s hospitals drives him in. I will literally write in “Bryzzo” for President of the United States if they win the World Series.
  15.   Ben Zobrist is the pickiest freaking batter most patient hitter in the National League.  He will bore you with his walks.  Ah, but he shall conquer all.
  16.   Addison Russell goes Vroom Vroom by driving in 95 runs, playing spectacular defense, and looking like a 12-year-old like a future star. Those of you who read this guide in 2003 I didn’t write one know that I talked on and on about the importance of the shortstop position not botching a ground ball in the hypothetical eighth inning of Game 6 which might lead to some sort of play where a fan might interfere with a ball or something and be ostracized and… Wait. What?  Anyway, we have ourselves a shortstop who won’t do that please dear god, ladies and gentlemen. Vroom vroom.
  17.  Meet Jason Heyward.  If there is a baseball god who has finally decided to take pity on my poor broken heart and dedication to their sport for 36 years, then Jason Heyward is going to go on a hitting tear for the next four weeks to make up for not hitting a damn thing struggling mightily during the regular season. I am an ardent defender of Mr. Heyward (as long as he’s not on my fantasy team) and Mr. Heyward is an ardent defender of right field. With any luck you, casual viewer, will get to see him throw out a baserunner at home.
  18. Just kidding. I don’t want any baserunners to come near home plate.
  19. Our seventh hitter is whoever plays left field OR Javy Baez at third with Kris Bryant in left field.  If Javy Baez gets to play, then watch for his snap tags.  He makes tagging out runners an exciting, dramatic, implausibly wonderful experience.  (THAT, my friends, is how true homerism is done.)
  20.  We have three catchers. You’ll see all three in the first three games of the NLDS.  There’s the only true rookie on our roster, Willson Contreras, who has a gun for an arm.  There’s Miggy Montero who is considered one of the top three pitch framers and routinely drives me crazy also can handle the bat.
  21. And then there’s David Ross.  Grandpa Rossy.  The soon-to-be retiree.  The man who batted in the lower .200s for his career was treated like this for his final regular season game at Wrigley Field.  Go ahead.  Watch.  I’ll wait.  We will win this for him.  He’s our guy.
  22. So that’s our lineup. It’s Monday so I’m not sure who we play yet so I may add a post for that, but for now, you have a better understanding of who you’re cheering for this holiday season baseball postseason.
  23. OH! I ALMOST FORGOT.  When the Cubs get a lead and our outstanding starting pitching cruises through the first eight innings, then all the other team has to do is face this guy: Have you ever seen a human man throw 103 mph?  Because this human man throws 103 mph and it looks effortless.  So, y’know, good friggin luck with that!

So that’s it, everyone.  Sit down.  Strap in.  Drink some coffee cuz the games don’t start til nighttime.  Then please please please please please please feel free to cheer as loudly as you can.  There is no noise limit on the bandwagon.  We can do this.

Let’s go Cubs!

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