Fire up Yahoo's Stattracker and have a beer or two too many at lunch today - the road to the 2016 World Series starts today.
You obviously know how I feel about this season, so you don't need any further predictions from me. But there are certain ways that this season could start that may have some of the more bandwagon-y fans itching for Notre Dame football to start come June*. The important thing to remember is that baseball is a loooooooong season and between statistical variance and injury risk, a lot of crazy shit can happen.
*A lot of people would say clearing out some of the band-wagoners would be a good thing, but I disagree. This used to be something I could spew the hottest, fresh out of the oven takes on, but I feel like I'm old enough to really not give two shits about. I'm certainly not one of those 'Baseball Is Dying In America' truthers, but having more eyes on baseball in general...that's never a bad thing.
Really, there are only 3 ways that this season can start, and I can walk you through all of them. Feel free to print this out and have in a safe place as a guide to get you through any of the following scenarios for the 2016 Cubs over the first month or so:
1. The Cubs start out red-hot, going into May with a record of 18-6
Obviously this would be the best case scenario. But like I said, it's a very long season. One thing to keep in mind is that the Cubs have a very favorable first month, playing a whopping 17 games against the potentially-terrible Angels and the definitely-terrible Reds, Brewers, Rockies and Braves. So if they tear their way through April and then lose three of their next four series to start May (2x Pirates, Nationals), DO NOT PANIC. There are still over a hundred games on the schedule.
And don't get too cocky. We don't want to be the team everyone hates. The Cubs making a run at the World Series in 2016 is a story that everyone in the country outside of St. Louis can get behind. Let's not burn all that goodwill being asshats.
2. The Cubs Finish April Under .500
Hey, it could happen, and you need to be prepared for that so you don't drink everything under the sink. A month under .500 is less noticeable in July or August but it still counts the same in the standings. Remember the 2008 Cubs? Remember how they played pretty uninspired ball for the first 5-6 weeks of the season? They went into the first weekend of May at 18-14, a decent record, but not what you would expect from a World Series contender. They then went on to win 79 more games, finishing the year with 97 and the best record in the NL.
3. The Cubs limp into May in last place in the NL Central
The only way for this to happen would be if the Cubs not only lost their matchups with the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, but also the aforementioned Brewers and Reds. Yes, the Brewers and Reds that may both challenge 100 losses this season.
Panic. Dear sweet Jesus, panic. I couldn't handle this.