Logan Ivy gives us a Cubs perspective
Last year, 2016, Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs became World Series Champions for the first time since 1908. Defeating the Cleveland Indians four to three in a seven-game series, on Nov. 2, the day of game seven, the city of Chicago and the players celebrated the end of their 108-year World Series drought.
Preparing to retake the field in 2017, Maddon and the Cubs organization have made some changes this past off-season and during spring training in attempts to reach the World Series Championship again.
Chicago Cubs spring training was held in Mesa, Arizona. While hosting their games in Sloan Park, fans traveled across country to see games against the Cincinnati Reds, the opposing World Series team, Cleveland Indians, and cross-town rivals, the Chicago White Sox.
Not all was fun and games during spring training. The Chicago Cubs competed in the Cactus league where they ended their training with a 13-18 record unfortunately not even breaking even.
According to a Bleacher Report article written by Jacob Shafer, five Cubs athletes did not come to spring training bringing their A-game.
Jake Arrieta (RHP) in five spring innings, owns a 5.40 ERA, and issued three walks. On the other hand, he also issued six strikeouts. Arrieta has the game, he just has to handle it with a little more consistency. “It’s better to have it now, then in June or July,” Arrieta was reported saying on his wobbly control, according to Bleacher Report.
Ben Zobrist (2B/LF) is batting .190 this spring with one extra-base hit in 21 at-bats. Zobrist’s lack of prime play may be due to him turning 36 this upcoming May, but experienced players tend not to overreact to spring numbers.
Brett Anderson (LHP) took spring training a little more critically, it being his audition for the Cubs fifth-starter spot. According to Bleacher Report, in eight innings the 29-year-old left-handed pitcher gave up 15 hits and 6 earned runs.
Since the Cubs no longer have Aroldis Chapman on the roster, Wade Davis (RHP) is now the Cubs closer. Since coming to Chicago, Davis has reunited with Joe Maddon after their days together in Tampa Bay from 2009 to 2012. Davis was on the disabled list twice last season and seems to still not be fully recuperated.
This spring, in 1.1 innings, he has given up five hits, two walks and four earned runs. That equates to a 27.00 ERA according to Bleacher Report.
The last player Bleacher Report references is Jason Heyward (RF). In 29 exhibition at-bats, Heyward owns a .138/.242/.310 slash line with eight strikeouts. Luckily, Heyward is young and skilled enough to do as hip-hop artist Big Sean says and “bounce back.”
As they say practice makes perfect, unfortunately the Cubs lost on opening day to the St. Louis Cardinals. Unlike the Cubs below .500 record, the Cardinals ended spring training with a 20-8 record. Fortunately, one game does not dictate the rest of the Chicago Cubs season and they have an entire city of fans rooting for their return to the World Series again this season.
White Sox fan, Peter Medlin, expresses his frustrations
How many St. Louis Browns fans do we have in the building? Anyone? Is it zero? Well, if you didn’t know, the Browns, who played along the Mississippi in St. Louis from 1902-1953, were a perennial doormat in Major League Baseball.
The Browns made it to a single World Series in their half century of existence and are most famous for being the St. Louis baseball team that isn’t the Cardinals. As for that World Series? They lost to their neighbors that played in their own stadium, the Cardinals.
You can imagine that the feeling is similar for White Sox fans right about now. With Chicago collectively erupting to celebrate the Cubs first World Series title in 108 years, the South Siders drifted further and further from the public conscience.
While the Cubs are sizing up the odds of a repeat in 2017, the White Sox are being sized for the downward-pointing arrow, a painful reminder of questionable ownership decisions that will adorn the outside of the newly minted “Guaranteed Rate” field.
In 14 years the White Sox home field’s name has went from the original Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular Field to the new Guaranteed Rate, putting the Sox in line with some of the worst stadium names in sports, save for the New Orleans Pelicans’ great new homestead: the “Smoothie King Center.”
White Sox fans and players alike were not immediately sold on the new name. “It’s going to take some getting used to,” infielder Tyler Saladino told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a lot easier to say ‘The Cell,’ but all right.”
Speaking of the White Sox front office, management has plunged the Sox into a full rebuild mode. Which, in baseball terms, means that they are letting go of their current valuable assets in order to invest in future prospects.
We saw the South Siders commit to that reboot this past winter when they sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a lucrative bunch of prospects, and more importantly dealt ace left-handed pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for young talent including the No. 1 rated prospect according to MLB.com: third baseman Yoan Moncada.
The Sox last remaining all-star is pitcher Jose Quintana, who is set to take the mound on opening day despite rumors that he also could be traded away in the name of revitalization. Besides Quintana, there are some guys on the roster like Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu that could not only prove valuable for the future, but also give fans a reason to hike up to the cheap seats and enjoy a game this summer.
Is it fair to expect a championship contender on the South Side this year? Probably not. But rebuilds have been successful for MLB teams as of late, most remarkably the Chicago Cubs. Only three years ago the Cubs were in peak rebuild and finished the year at 73-89 with a warm seat in fifth place.
All in all, our young studs may need time to develop in the minor leagues which could spell trouble for the 2017 White Sox, but if the 2016 Cubs taught us anything, it’s that patience is a virtue worth its weight in World Series trophies.