As 2017 winds down, the ridiculously slow pace of the free agent and trade markets have pushed off a number of the looking-back-and-reminiscing things I’ve wanted to do here in the offseason. To that end, one exercise I wanted to get into before the year came to an end was a top five list of my favorite Cubs moments from the year. So … I better get on that before it’s too late.
You will undoubtedly disagree with me (WHERE ARE THE NACHOS, BERT!?!?), but that’s half the fun. There are about 20 other moments that could have made this list, so I won’t fight ya if you disagree with me. Head down to the comments and drop your thoughts.
Away we go …
Number Five: The Cubs Go Nuts on the Diamondbacks
This one might seem random, but I bet you remember it. The Cubs were hosting the Diamondback for an early-August series and absolutely exploded on Patrick Corbin, scoring eight runs in the first three innings, and adding another eight runs before the game was over.
The outburst included five homers, including Jon Lester going deep for the first time in his career:
I wanted to make sure to include this one on the list, not because it was such a huge game or because it featured such a singular, seminal moment for the 2017 team. Instead, I really wanted to include a particularly FUN time we were all having together watching the Cubs, since the regular season was otherwise so fraught with frustration and fans generally not having as much fun as they would have liked.
That night against the Diamondbacks, it was just so much fun from beginning to end. You watch regular season baseball for a lot of reasons, but one of them is the hope that you’ll get to just relax and enjoy the heck out of a win like that.
One of the best moments of the year came all the way back at the home opener, nine innings after the Cubs raised their first world championship banners in 108 years, and walked onto the field with THE trophy:
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) April 11, 2017
In the game, the Cubs battled the very team they’d vanquished in the NLCS the year before – and would ultimately face again in the NLCS later in the season – heading to the bottom of the 9th inning tied with the Dodgers, and facing Kenley Jansen.
Anthony Rizzo capped off an incredible night with an incredible ending:
Cubs win 3-2, everyone looks good in gold, and the seeds for a little rivalry were further sewed.
At the end of September, the Cubs rolled into St. Louis with a chance to clinch the NL Central, which, hey, if you’re not gonna do it at Wrigley Field, doing it at Busch Stadium sounds pretty good. Not only did the Cubs get that clincher, they also eliminated the Cardinals from postseason contention with an 11-inning win that ended with the greatest moment in the Leonys Martin Era:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 29, 2017
Per Statcast, a ball hit like that is a home run 7 out of 10 times. If Martin doesn’t catch it, the game is tied, and perhaps the Cardinals go on to win it that inning, or later on in the game.
As it was, the game was over, the Cardinals’ season was over, and the long faces were everywhere except on the Cubs:
Number Two: Wade Davis Closes Down Game Five of the NLDS
The entire NLDS was so weird and wonderful – remember the mold?! the rain-shifted game?! the Cubs getting dominated by Nationals pitching yet still winning the series?! RESPECT ME?!?!?! – that Game Five was the perfect end cap for the series (and, ultimately, the Cubs’ season).
The Cubs benefited from one of the most unusual innings in baseball history, scoring four runs in the fifth inning off of Max Scherzer, taking a lead they would not relinquish, on the following:
- Willson Contreras infield single.
- Ben Zobrist bloop single.
- Addison Russell double.
- Jason Heyward intentional walk.
- Javy Baez strikeout, ball gets away and then is thrown away.
- Catcher’s interference.
- Hit by pitch with the bases loaded.
Even crazier, though we wouldn’t have it confirmed for weeks later? It shouldn’t have happened, because the Baez strikeout should have been called batter’s interference.
But the “moment”, as it were, from the Cubs’ win would have to be Wade Davis grinding out 2.1 innings on 44 pitches, allowing one earned run, and striking out Bryce freaking Harper to end it:
What a game.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 13, 2017
I’m not *exactly* pretending like the NLCS didn’t happen, but basically, that right there is the final image I’ll hold from the 2017 Cubs season.
There were *bigger* moments in the season, without question. And you could argue that there was an even more fun moment in this very game, when Jon Lester picked off Tommy Pham at first base. But there was just something about that time and place, with Kyle Schwarber’s season-long slump pushing him progressively down the order, from the leadoff spot all the way to ninth, where he was batting in this game.
Then, in a key, two-out, seventh inning moment, with the bases loaded and trailing by two, Schwarber came to the plate. Mike Matheny elected to stick with starter Mike Leake and pitch to Kyle Schwarber, knowing full well that if he brought in a lefty, Joe Maddon probably would have gone with a pinch hitter. This was the match-up Matheny wanted, and it was extraordinarily gratifying to see Schwarber do this:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 3, 2017
Ah, that had to feel so good. I’m glad he watched it go. It certainly felt good for the rest of us watching.
Schwarber stuck around for about two more weeks before he was sent to AAA Iowa to get things right. After his return, he did nothing but rake.