April 1, 2011: Starlin Castro congratulates Soto in Chicago. The second-year Castro is the future of the Cubs.
Keep reading to find the answer to this and many more questions burning in your mind.
Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano started the season with a bang, but can they keep it up?
For now, riddle me this—which Major League Baseball franchise could have Kerry Hilson's "Knock You Down" as a theme song?
Other major league teams have loved knocking the Cubs down, but they keep getting back up. In fact, the "Lovable Losers" have been getting back up since 1908—the last time they won the World Series.
Boston won the World Series in 2004 to break the Curse of the Bambino. Its victory left the Cubs as the only cursed organization left in the big leagues.
The Cubs have a longer championship drought than any other American pro sports team, with their last win coming during heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson's heyday.
The curse was cast on the Cubs by a man who owned a goat—insert your own goat joke here. William Sianis brought his pet goat to Wrigley Field in 1945 to watch the fourth game of the World Series. As the legend goes, he was summarily dismissed from the stadium late in the game by Mr. P.K. Wrigley, owner of the venue and the team. This despite the fact Sianis owned two tickets, one for him and one for—you guessed it—the goat.
The alleged reason the goat was asked to leave was because it smelled. How dare the Cubs, you ask? So do I and the goat.
While leaving Wrigley Field, Sianis was heard to say the Cubs would never win another World Series as long as the goat wasn't allowed in the stadium.
The Cubs lost the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers, and the rest is history.
Since then, pro baseball has been mostly forgettable on the North Side. Formerly known as the Chicago White Stockings, the Cubs have been the smelly goats of the NL, finishing at or near the bottom almost annually.
The real life smelly goat died a long time ago, but its curse lives on under assumed names such as Ernie "He Needed More Batters to Help Him" Banks, "Ron Santo and the black cat in 1969 against the Mets" and "Steve Bartman in 2003."
That 1945 season was the last year the Cubs even appeared in a World Series.
The last time they won the NL Central title was during the back-to-backs in 2007-08, and they also won it in 2003. Winning three division titles from 2000-2010 isn’t bad, but it's only teased Cubs fans who are shaped from early ages into cheering for the "Lovable Losers."
The National League Central is shaping up to be one of the hardest divisions in the league too.
The North Siders started the season at .500 through the first 10 games. Batting close to .200 after the first 14 games for "Chicago's Team," first baseman Carlos Peña has been disappointing with his typical start. I figured though Peña would start off slow in a new league and a cold April climate.
Peña batted under the Mendoza line (.200) for much of 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2011, it's been the Rays all over again for the homer-less slugger.
Tampa Bay actually looks like it's out of contention early for the American League pennant. The Cubs, on the other hand, behind Castro and Chicago's big hitters, are looking better than they have in a few seasons.
Ryan Dempster is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game; he was one of a handful of pitchers to have more than 200 last season. He joined names like Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and Jared Weaver in the "closing out batters by getting them to fan" category.
The rivalry with the Redbirds—the St. Louis Cardinals—should be intense. The Cubs are trying to come up, while the Cardinals are trying to hold onto their dominance of the division over the years.
Cincinnati started off 7-3, but its schedule has been light during the first month. Every baseball insider knows the Reds can hit the ball, but their starting pitching is suspect.
It can be said without provoking much of an argument that the Reds have perhaps the most suspect pitching staff among contenders. Cincy reminds me of the Yankees right there. I'm not sure which staff is worse though—probably the damned Yankees.
Speaking of "damned," the so-called cursed Cubs have taken a baby step closer to an NL pennant, but so have a lot of other teams. Health will be of major importance in the division, but I don't see the Cubs walking away with the title in 2011.