As sure as the ivy grows in Wrigley Field every summer, so do the Chicago Cubs in finding themselves the odd men out in October.
With more than 100 years of misplayed balls and missed home runs, this should be the year it changes. This should be the year they break the "Cubbie" curse and learn the magic of October glory—but they won't.
The Cubs are walking into this season as underdogs with all the right tools. Their lineup still consists of a power-slugging duo manning the No. 3/No. 4 spots, a solid average with explosive speed in the No. 1/No. 2 holes and a front end of the rotation that rivals any other in the NL Central.
Even with all these tools though, the Cubs are still seen as pure mediocrity amongst a division of contenders.
The pressure is off for the boys in blue this year. Analysts are predicting a fourth-place finish, trailing the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds. The organization sees Mike Quade as more of an interim manager than a solid addition to the coaching staff.
With no outside pressure or expectations, the team should be primed for success. A jovial atmosphere could pave the way for players to find their roles and thrive.
That won't happen this year though.
The team has put too much pressure on themselves internally. Between Quade's position battle and discipline mishap, he has set a volatile atmosphere for the team. Combine this atmosphere with the three powder kegs of pitchers (Zambrano, Garza and Silva), and you are one round of boo birds away from an explosion to level the century-old stadium.
Carlos Silva has already given us a small taste of this event to come, during this preseason. After several errors made on the field and a long ball to spike his ERA, Silva took the pressure out on his underperforming teammates.
With Derek Lee gone, it appears the Cubs are without their clubhouse leader. If no one brings them together and takes the pressure off, this ugly occurrence will surely be repeated later this season.