The Chicago Cubs’ expectations have been sky high all year. Most predicted them to win the World Series back in the winter. They’ve lived up to those expectations most of the year, but recently, the team has struggled. In the last 17 games their record is just 5-12. The starting pitching has looked weaker, the bullpen has been inconsistent, and the injuries have piled up. However, the All-Star voting results are in and the entire Cubs infield will start in the July 12th game. At first base will be Anthony Rizzo. Ben Zobrist beat out Daniel Murphy by 88 votes and will start at second. Addison Russell will cover short and Kris Bryant will play third. Those results, on the surface, seem ideal. It shows how well the team has played most of the first half. But if you look deeper, it just continues to build the pressure.
No team has had the entire infield start an All-Star game since the Cardinals did it in 1963. Beyond that, the Cubs have a starting outfielder in Dexter Fowler and likely a starting pitcher in Jake Arrieta. Will a team this young be able to handle this new found level of success? Success that’s now being showcased and seen on a national level.
There hasn’t been a team this likable in recent memory. Nobody truly hates this Cubs squad. Are they annoyed with all of the attention they’re getting? Potentially. Better yet, probably. The Cubs have been crowned the 2016 World Series champs since last year’s loss to the Mets in the NLCS. But the difference between annoyance and hatred is significant. Kris Bryant is one of the most humble superstars in the game. Anthony Rizzo makes stellar places with his bat and glove. Jake Arrieta is a quiet beast. This is a group full of mostly respectful and likable superstars, which is a rarity in major sports.
When the teams take the field on July 12th, it’ll be just another accomplishment for a Chicago Cubs team that has already done so much. However, with the recent struggles and now more national attention, which Cubs team will we see going forward? The one that held the best record in the league for months, or the one that has come back down to earth?