Chicago Cubs Enter The Big Dance With Bang, 5-0 Shutout, Over The Dodgers As NLCS Champions

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For the National League Chicago Cubs, Game Six, with a shutout, 5-0, win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, their long road back to the World Series has come finally come to reality with a bright light at the end of a very long 71 year long tunnel. The Cubs will face the American League Cleveland Indians at Cleveland's Progressive Field, Tuesday, October, 25, 2016. 

Sun-Times, Chicago, IL

As has been reported throughout the season, this will be the Cubs first appearance in the Big Dance since 1945. The season of the "Billy Goat Curse" by Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern. He had brought his goat to Game Four at Wrigley Field as the Cubs were playing the Detroit Tigers. He was asked to leave with his goat due to the animal's foul smell affecting surrounding fans and was not allowed through the gate. Now, I'm sure the northenders know this well; but, I am not sure if Sianis' curse was "never to return to the World Series"; or, "never to win a World Series", again. Two defined words "return" and "win", can make a difference to break a curse. 

But for now, for the 2016 Cubs, National League Central Division winners with 103 wins, topping both MLB leagues in the regular season. First in both leagues to clinch their playoff berth. Postseason, NLDS and NLCS Champs. However, they look to the #4 to bring a World Series win back to the northend of Chicago. Last WS Pennant was in 1908. They add their #17 National League Pennant to their collection, last night, next to their last, in 1945. 

Cleveland Indians last won the World Series Pennant was in 1948. They have made three appearances since, their last being in 1997. This postseason, the Indians are 8-1 for their title wins in the ALDS and ALCS. The Cubs will come to Cleveland with two days rest. The hosting AL Indians will have been idle for five. Will Cleveland still have the drive which saw them through the first two series? Or, will the Cubs have the edge with the momentum of their win last night? Should be a great World Series between the two teams. 


Cubs starter Jon Lester and SS Javier Baez were named the NLCS MVP's. The last we saw the honor shared was in 1990 by Cincinnati Reds pitchers Rob Dibble and Randy Myers. Lester is a seasoned postseason pitcher, in this NLCS, 13 IP/1 HR/1 ER/9 SO for a 1.38 ERA. 2016 Playoffs thus far, Lester has pitched three games, 21 IP for a 0.86 ERA/0.76 WHIP. Baez, the kid that few in Chicago had hope for in 2014-2015. Yes, had a cannon for a bat, but, also, had a healthy walk-strikeout ratio, 19-BB/119 SO in 289 AB. Talks/summations of Baez being a trading chip in 2015. Now, he shares high honors with his teammate, Jon Lester. In 2016, still a bit heavy on the BB/SO, 15-BB/108 SO; however, within 421 AB. Closing his 2016 season, he held .273 BA/14 HR/59 RBI in his 142 games played. In this NLCS, he had 22 AB/4 RBI/4-2B/4-BB/4 SO with seven hits. For postseason, he takes with him to Cleveland a .342 BA/.366 OBP/.526 SLG/.892 OPS.   

But, in last night's game, with great defense behind him, starter Kyle Hendricks should have received, in my opinion, the "Defensive Player of the NLCS" for his performance in Cubs Game Six. Hendricks, as usual, was seemingly calm, collected and in command. He out pitched Los Angeles Dodgers power arm and Ace, Clayton Kershaw. Hendricks went 7.1 scoreless innings, only giving up two hits, six strikeouts and issued no free passes. He held the Dodgers offense, followed by Cubs Aroldis Chapman for 1.2 innings to advance the Cubs to the World Series. 


As a Cardinals fan, am I excited for the Cubs? Well, my excitement lays in the thought that my dad, Hearl Bishop; and, my mother-in-law, Dolores Chapman are celebrating in Heaven above for their beloved Cubs. It was my dad that taught me many things about the sport. He's the one that took the time to teach me to appreciate great plays and tremendous players, no matter the team. However, he was the one who was the rival baseball fan in the household. My mom and I were both fans of the Cardinals. Of course, who was the rival fan depended upon who was doing the talking. So a lot of banter between us. Those days I miss. For one Cubs fan, 90 year old Dorothy Ferrell, she witnessed what my dad and mother-in-law weren't able to since 1945.  


This coming Tuesday will be Game One of the 2016 World Series, with coverage beginning at 7:00 CST. Presuming the crazy 7:08 for the first pitch. Cubs, nor Indians, have inked in their starters. Should Cubs manager Joe Maddon stay the course, it will be Jake Arrieta on the bump. However, in the playoffs, with two game starts on the road, Arrieta has pitched 11 innings, giving up 2 HR/6 ER allowing 12 hits for a 7.20 ERA for postseason. At home, he held a 2.62 ERA.  So, will Maddon stay? Or, start Lester, who will have five days rest in and has a 1.29 on the road. On the flip-side, the Indians may have hopes of facing Lester, again. They have hit him with a .306 BA in past games. But, I think facing Arrieta would not bother them, either; with, a .273 BA against him.  


Yes, it was confirmed yesterday that Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber was activated from the 60-Day DL and was to join the Arizona Fall League this weekend. Saturday, last night, would be his first live game since he sustained a multiple ligament (ACL/LCL) left knee season ending injury, April 7. Both GM Theo Epstein and Cubs manager Joe Maddon indicated, "the very real possibility", that Schwarber would join the team in Cleveland and placed on the roster as their designated hitter. However, the results of his sixth month check-up, this Monday, will be the deciding factor. In his rookie season, 2015, he had 16 HR/43 RBI for Chicago.  

A tremendous season for the northenders of Chicago. Now, time will tell if Cubs starter, formerly a  St. Louis Cardinals, Sir John Lackey, will obtain his goal in signing with the Cubs ~ getting his jewelry. Or, will he just have to settle for a haircut. Yes, I'm still very much a Cardinals fan at heart. Sorry, dad ~ love you!