Talk about dynasties all you want when it comes to the Cubs with their 200 wins the last two years, their historic championship last fall and their young core of talent.
But don’t expect much dialogue on the subject in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
“I wouldn’t say we talk about it,” two-time postseason hero Kyle Schwarber said Tuesday, the day Cubs pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. “We really just want to focus on what we have ahead of us this year. But obviously we know the talent that we have, and we know how good we can be for some years down the road. But no one can predict the future. Take it one year, one day, one pitch at a time.”
As the Cubs open their first Arizona spring training as defending World Series champs, the questions about repeats – if not dynasties – figure to follow them all the way into the season.
Repeats have been especially rare in the last four decades. Since the Yankees went back-to-back in 1977-78 – the third team to repeat in that decade alone – only the Blue Jays (1992-93) and the Yankees again (1998-2000) have pulled it off.
In the 38 years since the Yankees’ 1970s repeat, 21 different teams have won titles .
The closest anyone has come since was the Giants’ every-other-year-run of three titles from 2010-2014. And the Royals won in 2015 after taking the Giants to Game 7 in 2014.
Few doubt the Cubs have the talent, barring health setbacks, to challenge for another title. And the biggest challenge to sustaining that level of competitiveness for the next five or six years is their ability to rebuild the pitching staff after the likely departures of Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Wade Davis to free agency after this season.
“You have to work really hard – we all do – to avoid any kind of organizational arrogance,” team president Theo Epstein said last month, “any sense of entitlement, to really understand that of all the great thing that happened last year, the most special aspect was we all got to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
That’s something even the young Schwarber seems to recognize.
“We all have our little self-motivation. Obviously, we want to get back to where we were last year,” he said. “Bringing [a championship] back to the city of Chicago was great. Now we’ve got to do it again. And it starts here, Day 1 of spring training. So I’m sure that we’re all going to be ready to get out there fired up and ready to work.