Even if one isn't a sports fan, most people can appreciate the Chicago Cubs not winning a World Series in 105 years, the team being in last place this year, and Cubs fans hoping for their Moses to lead them out of the wilderness.
The team brought in a new team president a few years ago, Theo Epstein, and the smart and understand fans have been patient as the team has ripped itself up to start rebuilding from the ground up. That has started with taking one of the worst minor league systems and turning it into the highest rated, with four prospects in the top 14 of all of baseball. And a 5th in the top 30.
As you might imagine, Cubs fans have been anxiously waiting for these young hopeful phenoms to be called up to the majors, and the most impatient have been clamoring for it (unreasonably) now. But you don't rush prospects until they're ready, because you can just as easily ruin them. Still, there is an anxiousness to find out if these messiahs are actually as great as they're touted, or false prophets.
For several years, the top name among all those prospects was infielder Javier Baez. He's since been supplanted in the Cubs system by 3rd baseman Kris Bryant, as the team's #1 prospect, but that's no insult to Baez. Bryant is ranked the #2 prospect in all of baseball -- and Baez is ranks #5. That's how great he's supposed to be. You can imagine the salivating of Cubs fandom after 105 years wandering in that desert. However, Baez is still only just 21, which is awfully young to be a savior....
But then on Tuesday, the Cubs galvanized the Chicago sports world when they announced they were promoting Javier Baez to the major leagues -- and that he would be starting that very night! Here at last was the fans' chance to see if he really, actually, truly was as great as his reputation.
As I told my friends, I hoped the fans would cut him some slack, and understand that however he did at the start -- good or bad -- you had to give him 30-40 games, at least, to see how he played. Still, though, you did hope he started well, if only to help build his confidence.
In his first game, there was good and bad. One of the good things was that he clearly had a maturity and didn't appear overmatched by major league pitching. He's known as a wild swinger who strikes out a lot, but has a "fast bat" with great power, and can hit for average. So, he looked like a major leaguer at the plate. The bad was that he was 0-5 and had struck out three times -- though one of his outs was a long fly to the warning track with the bases loaded. It was a long and tiring game, going extra innings, and by midnight had reached the 12th inning.
That's when Javier Baez came to bat leading off the top of the inning. And with the score tied against Colorado 5-5, this is what happened on the very first pitch.
Let's just say it was worth staying up that late. His game-winning home run was the talk of Chicago sports news the rest of the night and all the next day. It's amazing how a game-winning home run can erase 0-5, no matter how good the 0-5 was.
By the way, the next day he went 0-4, so he was 1-10. (Albeit with one game-winning home run.)
And then yesterday, oh, by the way -- he went 3-4, drove in four runs...and hit two more home runs! Giving him three in three games.
And Cubs fans
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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