by Dominic Archer
I’ve been a Chicago Cubs fan my whole life. The last 10 years or so have been the years where I have really paid attention to the team. I’ve seen a team that choked in the playoffs in 2003, and a team that has climbed the mountaintop. All of these moments got me thinking. With the suspension of baseball until further notice, I decided to list out my favorite moments from the Cubs regular seasons starting in 2010 and ending in 2019.
- 10) The Hiring of Theo Epstein – I had to start with the man who’s responsible for it all. What Theo has done for the franchise will be cemented into Cubs lore forever. He took over an organization that had one of the worst farm systems in baseball, a horrific lineup, and a pitching staff that had very little talent. He built a farm system filled with talent at all levels, a star-studded lineup, a starting rotation with aces like Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, and acquired good bullpen arms like Travis Wood and Pedro Strop. All of this culminated in a World Series title in 2016, ending the longest championship drought in professional sports.
- 9) Jon Lester’s Game on August 1st, 2017 – The left-handed starting pitcher has been one of the most consistent pitchers in all of baseball for the last decade. Every year, Lester has taken the ball every fifth day and pitched well. He’s also been one of the best playoff pitchers during that span. Jon Lester recorded his 2,000th career strikeout on this day, and he had a good day at the plate. He’s very good at limiting opposing hitters, he however isn’t as good as getting hits himself. Lester set the major league record for the longest stretch of at-bats before getting his first hit (0-for-66), which he ended in 2015. But on August 1st, 2017, Lester hit his first career homerun and drove me and all of my Cubs friends crazy.
- 8) Grandpa Rossy’s 100th Home Run – David Ross quickly became one of my favorite Cubs after he signed in 2015. The savvy veteran catcher had bounced his way around the big leagues until he found a home in Boston with the aforementioned Jon Lester. Lester and Ross developed a special bond when they were in Boston. Lester had the best cumulative ERA with Ross than any other catcher Lester had worked with. When Lester signed with the Cubs in 2015, his buddy Ross wasn’t too far behind him. Ross worked almost exclusively with Lester during his starts and very quickly became a fan favorite. Everything seemed to be going the Cubs way in 2016, even for the 39-year-old. Ross had his best year at the plate in 3 years, and on May 27th, 2016, every Cubs fan favorite catcher hit his 100th career home run.
- 7) Starlin Castro’s Debut – The 6-foot 2-inch shortstop from the Dominican Republic was regarded as one of the best prospects in the Cubs farm system before making his debut. Starlin made his Major League debut with the Cubs on May 7th, 2010, making an impact right away. He homered in his first at-bat as a big leaguer, and later doubled in the game, going 2-for-5 with 6 RBI, which set the record for most RBI in a debut. Starlin had an up-and-down career as a Cub, but his offensive contribution was valued, and he’ll surely be remembered as a good player for the team.
- 6) Jake Arrieta’s First of Two No-Hitters as a Chicago Cub – Jake Arrieta was traded to the Cubs along with Pedro Strop on July 2nd of 2013 from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger. The funny part about that trade was that the Cubs weren’t trading for Jake Arrieta; they were trading for Pedro Strop. Arrieta has the worst career ERA for any Orioles starting pitcher ever and was sent to AAA Iowa after the Cubs got him. After that, Arrieta turned into the ace that everyone knows. He had a solid 2014 campaign, but he hit his stride during the 2015 season which would be one for the history books. Arrieta went 22-6 and had an ERA of 1.77. The shining moment of that season was when he took the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 30th. Arrieta allowed no hits and one walk as he struck out 12 Dodgers and finished one of the best Cubs pitching performances this side of the 2000’s.
- 5) Kyle Hendricks Channels His Inner Greg Maddux – Kyle Hendricks, better known as “The Professor,” has become the Cubs’ most consistent starter over the past few seasons. He hasn’t had an ERA over 4 in his career, and his ERA hasn’t climbed over the 3.50 mark since 2015. Hendricks signature pitch is the changeup, which induces a lot of ground balls. Hendricks is a “pitch-to-contact pitcher” and doesn’t strike many batters out, which leads to a lot of low pitch counts. Hendricks pitching style was on display on May 3rd of 2019 for an early season match-up against the Cubs’ bitter rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Professor took the Cardinal batters to class, going 9 innings, only allowing 4 hits to go along with 3 strike outs and no walks or runs.
- 4) Arrieta Throws His Second No-Hitter As a Cub – With Arrieta’s magnificent 2015 campaign, Cubs fans expected big things from the right-hander. Although Arrieta’s 2016 campaign wasn’t as good as 2015, it was still very good. His ERA saw a whole run and a half increase, but he did win 18 games and his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) was a hair over 1 (1.084) which gave him all-star appearance. The shining moment of his 2016 regular season was when he took the mound against Cincinnati Reds on a cool spring night on April 21st. Arrieta sent the Reds packing as he went 9 innings without allowing a hit, walking 4 and striking out 6, giving him his second career no-hitter and the 15th no-hitter in Cubs history.
- 3) The Chicago Cubs Clinch the Central Division and a Playoff berth in 2016 – The Cubs 2016 season was the culmination of 108 years of triumphs and tribulations, billy goats, a fan named Steve, and multiple 100 loss seasons. Whenever something could go wrong for a Cubs team, it always seemed to happen: getting swept in the NCLS against the Mets in 2015, losing on Wrigley’s 100th birthday, and missing out on countless free agents. But not in 2016. In 2016, the Cubs could do no wrong. They had the best record in baseball, an MVP third baseman in Kris Bryant, 6 All-Star selections, pulled off a trade that brought the game’s best closer, Aroldis Chapman, to the North side, and Kyle Hendricks lead the majors in ERA with Jon Lester right behind him in second. Although the Cubs had to win the division through a Cardinals’ loss at the end of the season, they were the best team in baseball that whole year and gave Cubs fans hope that they hadn’t had before.
- 2) Anthony Rizzo Blasts his 200th Home Run as a Cub – In one of Theo Epstien’s first moves as the President of Baseball Operations,, he traded for the young slugging first baseman for Andrew Cashner. I think it’s safe to say the Cubs won that trade. Rizzo has been a stalwart at first base for the last 8 years. He had a stretch of 4 years (2015-2018) where he drove in 420 runs and hit 120 HRs, and had a batting average of .281. Rizzo is my favorite Cub ever and he makes the argument of being the best Cub over the last 25 years. We could see a statute of him outside of Wrigley when it is all said in done! On May 9th, 2019, Rizzo showed why he might have his on statute on Waveland, hitting his 200th HR as a member of the Cubs, becoming only the 9th Cub to ever do so, and it brought a huge smile to my face. Kris Bryant has an MVP award and Javy Baez might have one in the future, but if the game is on the line, I want #44 at the plate.
- 1) Bote Eliminates the Nationals 3 Run Lead With One Swing on August 12th, 2018 – This is my favorite regular season moment as a Cubs fan because of the drama that transpired on that August night. Ben Zobrist was retired to start off the bottom of the 9th, but Jason Heyward reached on an infield hit, and Albert Almora was then hit by a pitch. The Cubs had hope! But when Kyle Schwarber was retired, that hope quickly dissipated as Wilson Contreras came to the plate. Contreras is good at the plate, but the only way the Cubs can win is if he gets on base and the pinch hitter for the pitcher keeps the line moving. The Cubs were down 3-0 in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and a man on first and second. Contreras got hit with a pitch to load the bases, but the Cubs bench had a bunch of guys who either weren’t proven or had just gotten called up, like David Bote. Bote had made some plays in his short time in the big leagues at this point, but nothing pointed to him being able to end this with one swing. He fought to get a 2-2 count, and Nationals pitcher Ryan Madson threw a fastball down in the zone. Bote connected and put it in the seats in dead center field. That homerun instantly became a classic moment, and David Bote cemented himself as a legend in the Cubs history books.