It has been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series, 71 since they have played in one. Many superstitious fans blame a series of curses: the billy goat, the black cat or the Steve Bartman debacle of 2003. Whatever the reason may be, it seems the drought may come to an end this year.
The Cubs entered Game Six of the World Series down 3-2 on Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians.
Chicago resident and Wittenberg senior Josh Kaplan is as excited as anyone about the late success of the Cubs.
“I went to a couple of games this summer and the change is incredible,” Kaplan said. “The team is completely different than five years ago, and now they have a team that’s a playoff contender for the next decade.”
Just three years ago, the Cubs finished last in the National League Central Division with a record of 73-89. Last year, they surprised the baseball world by finishing with a regular season record of 97-65 and making it to the National League Championship Series, losing to the New York Mets in a 4-0 sweep.
Over the past two years, the Chicago Cubs have become not only the best team in baseball, but one of the most popular too. From the beginning of the year, the Cubs have three of the highest-selling jerseys in the entire major leagues: Jake Arrieta [RHP], Anthony Rizzo [1B], and Kris Bryant [3B, 2015 Rookie of the Year, 2016 Hank Aaron Award].
It doesn’t hurt the popularity of the club that they also have one of the most iconic, historical ballparks in the United States. Wrigley Field, famous for its day games and ivy-covered outfield walls, was built in 1914. It’s the second oldest ballpark in the MLB behind the Red Sox’s Fenway Park. Nicknamed “The Friendly Confines,” the stadium has been a welcoming, family friendly environment for decades, helping the popularity of the Cubs stay afloat despite a history of bad baseball teams.
During the last week of the regular season, the Reds hosted the Cubs in a three-game series at Great American Ballpark. Marty Brennaman, the Reds radio broadcaster said that of the 27,368 fans that showed up on a Saturday, almost half were Cubs fans. This shows the significant impact the Cubs are having on the Major League Baseball fan base.
But the Cubs aren’t just getting attention from baseball fans.
“Honestly I’m not a baseball fan at all but if you had asked me, ‘Who’s the best team in baseball?’ I would’ve said the Chicago Cubs,” Chris Eigner, a Wittenberg sophomore said.
The Cubs are fifth among Major League Baseball teams in average paid attendance and have seen an increase in ticket sales for the second year in a row. Chicago fans love their Cubbies and have flooded into the ballpark to watch them cruise to a World Series berth.