Leonardo DiCaprio and the Cubs

Rejoice Chicago Cubs fans! Leonardo DiCaprio finally earned his Oscar. After years of heartbreaking failure, of watching his best work eclipsed by fluke performances[1], 2016 belongs to DiCaprio. Why should Chicago Cubs fans care about DiCaprio’s long-sought Oscar win? Because for better or worse—the pedigree, the promise, the heartbreak—the Chicago Cubs are baseball’s Leo DiCaprio.

Leo’s win is a signal from the baseball gods that 2016—finally—is the Cubs’ year[2]. The 2016 World Series will be The Revenant 2: Bear’s Revenge.

Of course, “this year” has been the Cubs’ year since the 1930’s. I believe “a Cubs pennant in every home” is listed just after Social Security and Medicare in the rough draft of FDR’s New Deal. Every ha’penny scribe shilling for Pounds Sterling has written a few, “This is the Cubs’ Year” columns. Promising Chicagoans hope is like pouring gas on a tire fire[3]. It’s plucking the low-hanging fruit, it’s shooting fish in a barrel, its spouting lazy metaphors instead of actually writing.

The difference is that this year could actually be the Cubbies’ year. Fangraphs’ early projections have the Cubs leading all of Major League Baseball with 96 wins[4].

Jake Arrieta is a bona fide ace. He is manager Joe Maddon’s dream: a horse that eats innings and craps wins. He’s got enough muscle to carry a team through slumping, uneven ground.[5] Behind him, Lester and Lackey make for an impressive starting rotation.

On offense, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are all projected to flirt with 30 HRs and 30 doubles. Jayson Heyward, stolen from the rival Cardinals, has the tools to be a high-average, run-scoring machine. Newly-acquired second baseman Ben Zobrist provides veteran presence and pop at the bottom of the order. Add the possibility of Schwarber spelling Montero at catcher every few days and the Cubs offense borders on cruel. The Cubs have more weapons than the cast of the Expendables 2. Fangraphs sees them scoring 4.6 runs a game.

The bullpen is a little less certain. Cubs fans dream of Carlos Rodon building on the second half of last year. He has the potential to be an All-Star closer. Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm should set Rodon’s table in in the seventh and eighth. Behind them…well, if you’re scoring 5 runs a game, who the hell needs a bullpen?

The Chicago Cubs are Leonardo DiCaprio. They’ve gone down on the Titanic. They’ve swum through Inception‘s twisting nightmares. They’ve flown higher than The Aviator only to see their hopes buried alongside The Departed. Left for dead under 100 years of frozen tundra, the Cubs are baseball’s Revenant. Chicago’s Northsiders have clawed back to life and are on a single-minded mission for World Series blood.

Let’s just hope baseball’s Daniel Day Lewis decides to take 2016 off.


[1] Does that make Steve Bartman Jamie Foxx in “Ray?”
[2] Either that or Schwarber needs to start serial dating supermodels.
[3] Let’s not forget; “Hope” from Chicago literally won a Presidential Election.
[4] Fangraphs also has my Cleveland Hardballers dethroning the champion Royals in the AL Central, so perhaps there’s a little bit of wish fulfillment in my leaning on these projections.
[5] Where there’s only one set of footprints, it’s because Jake Arietta carried you.


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