It’s easy to say there’s been no higher excitement for a season on the Northside in quite some time. In what’s regarded as “The Year” for the Cubs, it’s easy to get swept up in the hype. At what cost can Cubs fans be excited though? In most major sports, it’s the teams that aren’t widely projected to win it all that surprise people. The issue that arises most often is the pressure, especially the pressure that builds with so much expectation heading into a season. Where I think this year is different is in the team itself. In most teams that fall short of expectations, the Capitals of the world, it’s the small pieces that don’t quite gel that cause the wheels to fall off.
Many have said this Cubs team is “built to win”, and for good reason. With veteran leadership on not only the pitching staff (Lester), but added leadership in the infield/outfield (Heyward and Zobrist), all the pieces are there for this Cubs team. That’s not to say that anything is handed to a team like the Cubs, but coming off of a resounding success of a season in 2015, and the growth around the board, it’s easy to want and believe in this ball club more than ever.
Spring training is drawing to a close, and it’s been important for the Cubs as Opening Day is just a few short days away. Just five games remain in Spring Training and in the past few exhibitions we’ve seen more of the lineup, as well as seeing more of the lineup gel. In Sunday’s game against the Mariners the offense shined on multiple occasions, albeit during some insane bee swarms, in a 12-9 loss.
For me, one of the brighter spots throughout Spring Training has been Munenori Kawasaki. Kawasaki has been fantastic in his short time with the Cubs. In 38 at-bats, the Kagoshima, Japan, native has 15 hits with six runs and five RBI’s. It’s also hard not to mention his .395 batting average, his .489 on-base percentage, and his 1.042 OPS. Kawasaki as well as some of the other lesser known Cubs, like Jeimer Candelario, have shown up nicely, and should prove to be useful additions come regular season.
When Dexter Fowler re-signed with the Cubs it was met with shock, mostly at the fact that no one believed the outfielder would be back. He was welcomed openly however, and in 2015 Fowler proved to be one of the better assets on the entire club. So far in Spring Training, Fowler and his “Fowler’s Howlers” have taken over Mesa, with the centerfielder having three homers with six RBI’s and 12 runs scored in his 39 at-bats.
Whether it’s to be said or not about the hype around this team, it’s expected, it’s warranted, and it’s believable. It’s a long road to October, but after last year’s incredible season, the new additions to the roster, and the belief around the organization can carry this team. Whether it’ll pan out is to be seen, but God knows Cubs fans are eagerly waiting for April 4th.