Earlier this month, the Chicago Cubs broke the curse that has been haunting their team for years. For the first time since 1908, the Cubs won the World Series in an 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The Indians opened the best-of-seven World Series with a 3-1 game lead. When the Cubs came back, they became the first team to beat these odds since 1979. Many believe that the Cubs are primed to repeat their success in 2017.
Immediately after their win in the 2016 World Series, Vegas odds for 2017 began to heavily favor the Cubs. Bovada placed the odds of winning in 2017 at 7 to 2 for the Cubs. The next closest teams, such as the Dodgers and the Red Sox, are trailing behind at 9 to 1 odds. For those unfamiliar with Vegas odds, these fractions represent the amount of money you would stand to win in comparison to your initial bet. This means that, if the odds are accurate for the Cubs, an initial bet of $20.00 would see a return of $70.00. Payouts tend to be smaller for the team most heavily favored to win and larger for longshot teams.
Another strong vote in favor of the Cubs is the fact that many of their key players will be returning. Pitchers such as Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta are both on deck for next year. Position players Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist all have contracts that extend to 2017 or beyond. In fact, only a few big name players are currently free agents, including Aroldis Chapman and Dexter Fowler. Veterans such as David Ross and Miguel Montero are also on their way out. Luckily, reserve players such as Hector Rondon, Carl Edwards Jr., and Pedro Strop are ready to step it up in coming seasons.
A team of strong players is nothing without strong leadership. Luckily for the Cubs, they can expect the return of most of the coaching and pitching staff. Hitting coach John Mallee and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske are reportedly sticking around. Similarly, pitching coach Chris Bosio and bullpen coach Lester Strode are on board, too. Other coaching staff such as Brandon Hyde, Mike Borzello, and Henry Blanco will likely return. Bench coach Dave Martinez is reportedly considering other offers, but nothing is confirmed yet.
Most importantly, the Cubs have finally broken the curse that has thwarted them for so many years. In 1945, the Curse of the Billy Goat was apparently put on the Cubs by the owner of a tavern called (what else?) Billy Goat Tavern. Legend has it that William Sianis was asked to leave the stadium during a Cubs game because the odor of his pet goat was bothering other fans (whatever that means). When asked to leave, he cursed the Cubs by stating that they wouldn’t win anymore, which many took to mean anymore World Series games. Some claim that Sianis later tried to break the curse himself, but it wasn’t until the Cubs won against the Indians during the 2016 World Series Championship that the curse was lifted. On a spooky note, the Cubs’ win against the Dodgers is said to coincide with the 46th anniversary of Sianis’s death.
Whether the Cubs were truly cursed or just plagued with bad luck, the 2016 World Series win was a momentous occasion for fans and players alike. The world will certainly be watching with baited breath to see if they repeat their victory in 2017.