Can the Chicago Cubs Prove It’s Finally Their Year

MLB: NLCS-New York Mets at Chicago Cubs
Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports
October 20, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) hits a two run home run in the eighth inning against the New York Mets in game four of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the oldest surviving curse in baseball. The Chicago Cubs haven’t played in a World Series since 1945, the year a tavern owner cast “The Curse of the Billy Goat” because, the legend goes, his pet goat was turned away at the stadium gate. Adding to the Cubbies’ chagrin, the club hasn’t won the championship since 1908. “I have the sense that this is going to be the summer of Cubs love,” says Karl Ravech, host of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. “This is the year that everybody believes that the Chicago Cubs are going to break the curse. This is the best team they’ve ever had to do it.”

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Ravech says the World Series “dream scenario” would pit the Cubs against the Boston Red Sox, who lifted their own “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004 with Theo Epstein as general manager. Epstein is now president of baseball operations for the Cubs, and he and manager Joe Maddon oversee a crop of young players, including third baseman Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Pitcher Jon Lester is joined by John Lackey, his teammate when they won the 2013 World Series with the Red Sox. Another newcomer, infielder Ben Zobrist, acquired from 2015 champions Kansas City, “perhaps is the missing key” who could carry his new team through the playoffs, Ravech says. Of course, he adds, “St. Louis and Pittsburgh and other teams want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The New York Mets, who won the National League pennant last season, “have the best young pitching perhaps ever,” Ravech says. And since this is an even year, don’t count out the San Francisco Giants, World Series champs in 2010, ’12 and ’14. But for long-suffering Cubs fans, whose slogan has been “Wait till next year,” next year could finally be here.

The 2016 Major League Baseball season officially begins Sunday, April 3 at 1 p.m./ET on ESPN with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs begin their campaign on Monday, April 4 at 10 p.m./ET on ESPN2 when they visit the Los Angeles Angels.