Sports | June 23, 2023 6:38 am

The Cubs Are Chicago’s Best Chance for a Playoff Appearance in 2023

They're only a few games out of first, and their division is awful

two baseball players high fiving
Nico Hoerner of the Chicago Cubs rounds third after hitting a solo home run
Getty Images

Chicago is a great sports city. But it used to be better. So, so much better. As of right now, it’s looking like none of the five major men’s sports teams will make the postseason. The Bulls nearly made it to the first round of the playoffs, but the Heat knocked them out of the play-in tournament. (Did the Heat’s playoff run make you feel better about the Bulls’ season? Just me?) The Blackhawks’ intentional tanking reaped the sport’s biggest offseason prize; like it or not, they formally bid adieu to the 2010s championship era once Patrick Kane was traded and Jonathan Toews played his last game as a Blackhawk. Spring was a bust for the Bulls, a success for the future Blackhawks and technically postseason-less for both teams. (No, the NBA play-in tournament does not count as the playoffs.)

As for the Bears, even after trading the number-one pick in the draft for D.J. Moore and contemplating a division without either Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre for the first time since 1991, they’re still projected to only win seven and a half games, well below the number of wins needed to grab a wild card bid, let alone top the division.

Baseball Belongs on Free TV — Especially the Cubs

America’s pastime should be on prime time. The writers’ strike may make it possible.

The boys of summer are doing pretty much as expected. The White Sox should be an above-.500 team but are playing well below their expectations, yet again. The South Siders have one of the biggest feel-good stories of the year with the extremely early return of the now cancer-free pitcher Liam Hendriks, but their on-field product feels anything but good. Even when one aspect of a White Sox game is fantastic (Lance Lynn tied a franchise record of 16 strikeouts in a game), they lose those games. (Final score of Lynn’s historic game: Mariners 5, White Sox 1).

And so we come to the Cubs. April was pretty good, May was not great and June is turning out to be very good. They’re just about .500! The Cubs are only three and a half games out of first place — this is doable! It’s time to root, root, root for the Cubbies!

The NL Central is quite bad this year. Because of its general lack of excellence, the Cubs have a 20.5% chance of making the postseason at press time. (The White Sox are at 7.9%). The Cubs’ odds are not horrible odds! Those are better odds than the 2019 Washington Nationals had at this point in the season, and that team won the World Series. Those are better odds than the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies had at making the World Series at this point in the season. That team went to the World Series — all hope is not lost!

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is coming up. If things keep breaking the Cubs’ way, maybe they’ll keep likely All-Star pitcher Marcus Stroman. If they perform well in the London Series this weekend against their rival St. Louis Cardinals, maybe more casual fans will notice that the North Siders are actually pretty good — and the pressure will be on the front office to keep these guys together, rather than continue the traditional mid-season sell off. When a division is this bad and a team is this hot, there is no good reason to unload good players. The 2023 Chicago Cubs are the best chance Chicago has of seeing the postseason in 2023. A 20.5% chance. Damn.

If none of the major five Chicago teams make the postseason, at least there’s the Chicago Fire, Chicago Red Stars and Chicago Sky. Wait, they all have losing records too? Jesus. Well, go Cubs go!