Jake Arrieta didn’t have his best stuff in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday, but the Chicago offense did. The Cubs blasted six home runs to beat the Cardinals, 8-6, and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Cubs can clinch a spot in the NLCS on Tuesday.
But Monday? Monday was special.
“It was everything you would imagine,” Sporting News MLB reporter Ryan Fagan said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “You have the Cubs/Cardinals – you have that element – but you have a team in the Cubs that this city is behind. This city believes in the Cubs. They believe this team is going to win the World Series. You can just tell. I’ve been in Chicago when the Cubs have been okay and then good, not great, and you can tell this is different. This is a city that believes this team is going to do it. It’s going to be the year. They all saw Back to the Future II.”
That movie, of course, famously predicted that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015. Amy Lawrence laughed at Fagan’s comment, but he may have actually been somewhat serious in making it.
“Well, you know what? If you’re a Cubs fan, you hold on to whatever you got,” he said. “It’s been awhile since they won. But the atmosphere was fantastic. I got to Wrigley about five-and-a-half hours before the game, walked around and there were already tons of people there. It was very electric. It was a lot of fun.”
Why do Cubs fans believe in this team so much, you ask? Well, the Cubs were 52-47 on July 28 but went 45-18 (.714) the rest of the way to finish 97-65 – the third-best record in baseball. This fan base has experienced a lot of heartbreak in the last century and beyond, but they trust that their eyes aren’t lying to them.
“They’ve seen the talent that these guys have,” Fagan said. “They see Kris Bryant hitting the ball off the scoreboard. They see Anthony Rizzo putting together a season that’s going to get him in the top 10, maybe top 5, in the National League MVP voting. They have Jake Arrieta. They watched Jake Arrieta be amazing down the stretch. They just believe this team has it. They kind of identify with them. This is a Cubs team that wasn’t supposed to be this good this quickly. I think everyone kind of followed along and said, ‘Okay, at some point these guys are going to be a team that can be really good.’
“But if you’re a Cubs fan, you’ve had a lot of disappointments over the years,” Fagan continued, “so you kind of hold out for a while. And after a couple months, I think people started to accept that it was okay to believe, and then when you got into August and September and this team played better than anyone else in the National League, you really started to believe that. And then the way Arrieta pitched in the Wild Card game – I think it’s just been a series of examples of why it’s okay for them to believe in this team finally this year. And I think they’ve all fully bought in by now.”