The Chicago Cubs are in 1st place! Yes, the Chi Town, Wrigley Field playin’ Cubbies are in 1st place, with the best record in Baseball (it needs to be repeated repeatedly to sink in). The Cubs lead their Division, the National League Central, with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates, perennial powerhouses, far behind. Go figure. Certainly all baseball fans everywhere are scratching their heads and shaking their heads right about now.
The question is, “can they hang on?” They’re 62-40, 6.5 games ahead of the Cardinals in their Division and 0.016 percentage points ahead the Washington Nationals for first place overall. We’re heading into August, the dog days of summer, and it remains to be seen if the front runners can outrun and outlast and out outlive the likes of Baltimore and Texas and San Francisco and Cleveland. Yes Cleveland. And did someone say the Nationals? Nah, I didn’t think so.
Baseball’s a funny game. And since there’s a lot of baseball left to be played, anything can happen. But one thing’s for certain — the generally underachieving Cubs have emerged and continue to be one of the best stories in all of baseball.
The Cubs are winning and winning big. They’re doing it with pitching and with defense and with teamwork and with timing, and well, dare I say, with Providence? They’ve dramatically changed the sense of what they are capable of — probably in most fans’ minds and certainly in their own. In church we call it faith; so why should we use another word in sports when we mean the same thing?
The Cubs have gone from bottom feeders to World Series contenders. In the blink of an eye. Wow. And so the lesson is this: “the race is not given to the swift nor the battle to the strong. . . . but time and chance happen to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:1, NKJV
The Cubs have completely altered the conversation. For example, the Cubs “Differential,” the difference between “RS” (runs scored), and “RA” (runs scored against them), is +166. PLUS One hundred and sixty six! The closest team to then is the Nationals, with a Differential of +116. And most teams don’t even have a huge positive differential, much less a positive one at all. My Phillies have a differential of NEGATIVE 107. Seriously? I’m not a big sports analytics guy, but +166 is a number that just can’t be ignored.
So what’s your differential? What’s the difference between your good decisions and your bad decision? What’s the difference between how much money you have saved and how much you owe? What’s the difference between how much you forgive and the amount God has forgiven you? How about it?
So this year, I’m rooting for the Cubs. They deserve to win. They’re desperate to win. And some would say, they’re destined to win. So here’s to a World Series featuring the Chicago team not to win one in it. And here’s that they win it.