Chicago Cubs fan learns a lesson from watching ALCS

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Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija throws a pitch.
Will Jeff Samardzija become the first 10-game winner of the Theo Epstein era? ( Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

Of the three games in the series so far between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, two of them have been 1-0 thrillers.

Some people — many of them having been raised on video games and too much sensory stimulation — will claim that a 1-0 baseball game is boring. These are the same people who want football games to become 42-38 shootouts and who prefer their basketball games in the range of 100+ points for each team. These aren’t bad things, but when they don’t happen, it’s not a bad thing at all.

In fact, a 1-0 game magnifies every pitch and every play in the field. Justin Verlander threw over 100 pitches yesterday, but it was one pitch to Mike Napoli that proved decisive. Pitching and defense wins championships, and those who fail to appreciate this can’t really consider themselves baseball fans.

But as I so often do, this series leads me to having yet another thought about my team, the Chicago Cubs. It seems to me that, in putting all of the franchise’s eggs into the minor-league basket, a few names have been dangled before the fans as suggestions of better days still to come.

Names like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Kris Bryant are supposedly tearing up the minors and the Arizona Fall League, and they’re just around the corner from making an impact at the major-league level, as well. So buy your season tickets now.

Let’s give the organization the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that some of these prospects might go on to successful careers at the top level of the game. If they’re all position players, will that really help when they run into Max Scherzer or Adam Wainwright in the postseason? If the Detroit Tigers can’t get to John Lackey with names like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in their lineup, why does anyone think that names like Baez and Almora would fare any better?

Do the Chicago Cubs have any pitching prospects down on the farm? If so, I haven’t heard anything about them just yet. What I do know is that Jeff Samardzija hasn’t yet won 10 games in a season in the majors, nor has Travis Wood.

The Cardinals and Red Sox each had four 10-game winners on their pitching staffs this year while the Tigers had five. The Los Angeles Dodgers had only three on their staff during the regular season, but each of them won at least 15 games.

And what of the Chicago Cubs? After the first two seasons of the Theo Epstein regime, their next 10-game winner will also be their first one.

Pitching does indeed win championships, and the Cubs will need to seek some out, in order to become competitive at some point down the road.

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