Are Cubs at Risk of Becoming MLBs ’85 Bears?
Will Leitch, writing for mlb.com, outlines a fear I think most Cubs fans have—the 2016 Cubs are basically the 1985 Bears.
It is possible that the most famous NFL team of the last 40 years and the most famous baseball team of the last 40 years both are from Chicago. The 1985 Bears … well, the 1985 Bears are so famous that just typing their name right there got you humming the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” or thinking about your old G.I. Joe Refrigerator Perry figurine, or both. They were recently selected as the greatest NFL team of all time. They’re as large a part of Chicago as the skyline. They’re Da Bears.
But the 2016 Cubs may live on just as long. No franchise and its fanbase in American sports had suffered for as long or for as brutally as the Cubs had, from the Billy Goat to the ball through Leon Durham’s legs to poor Steve Bartman to Sammy Sosa’s bat to all of it. The Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years felt like an impossible cosmic event, like a wormhole opening in time, or someone inventing cold fusion. And yet it happened, and it happened in the most dramatic way imaginable, in the rain, in Cleveland, in extra innings, after Jason Heyward’s big speech, giving generations of Cubs fans a joyous release they never thought would come. Even this lifelong Cardinals fan cannot deny how moving it was to see Cubs fans writing the names on the Waveland Avenue wall of loved ones who never lived to see the day. It was the biggest story in sports this whole decade. It’s still amazing that it happened.
But if there’s another thing that both those teams’ championships had in common, it’s that each was supposed to only be the beginning. The Bears were heavy favorites to win again in 1986, and the Cubs, famously, were thought to be building a dynasty. The 1985 and 2016 seasons were the launching pads, not the culminations. But those 1985 Bears never did win (or reach) another Super Bowl, something Bears players at the time still argue about. (Dan Hampton says the Bears would have won multiple titles with Jay Cutler as quarterback, which seems unlikely considering he was three years old at the time), and it has always felt like a disappointment: That team was too good not to have won more.
And if they’re not careful: Those 2016 Cubs might just suffer the same fate.
I would argue it’s already happened. Sure, the next three weeks will show where the Cubs go this post-season. However, I don’t think anyone has any flights of fancy that the Cubs are World Series bound again nor favorites to win.
At the risk of karma bitch slapping me in the face, I think the Cubs will fade and maybe not even make the playoffs this year. If that happens, the northside is going to explode.