With 2015 over, Cubs look back to the future

CubsFrom the Saturday, Oct. 24, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …

So, Marty McFly was wrong.

But so much about this Chicago Cubs season was so right.

When it began, I was just hoping to see the team post an above-.500 record. That’s it. So, never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d instead get to see 97 wins and watch the Cubs reach the National League Championship Series while vanquishing the St. Louis Cardinals along the way.

Sure, the postseason ended with a dud – and a Lucas Duda – against a shockingly dominant New York Mets team that I predict will now win the whole shebang. But the sweep in the NLCS hardly put a damper on this magical 2015 Cubs campaign, about which I have some thoughts.

So allow me to step up to the plate.

Feels like optimism

On Wednesday night after Game 4 ended with the Mets moshing on the mound, there wasn’t joy to be found in Wrigleyville. But unlike the Cubs’ NLCS losses in 1984, ’89 and ’03, there weren’t any tears, either.

This postseason loss just felt different – in a good way.

That’s because while those postseason runs that fell one round shy of the World Series came crumbling down in heaps of heartbreak and frustration, this one felt more like the start of something much bigger.

The Cubs, after all, couldn’t have traveled further ahead of expectations this season with a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor. And with Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon holding the reins of a youthful roster brimming with talent, the future, I’m quite confident, is only beginning.

Great Scott!

Speaking again of “Back to the Future,” just how remarkable was it that the Cubs not only made the playoffs in the film trilogy’s long-prophesied 2015 season, but actually advanced far enough to make it look like the prediction might actually come true?

As a child of the ’80s, all of the “Back to the Future” banter around Wrigley this month made the playoffs all the more fun as I love a good blast from the past almost as much as one from Kyle Schwarber’s bat.

Heroes and goats

Not to bring up bad omens and foul memories … but, hey, who are the Cubs without some wacky mythology?

There’s an enormous irony that the Mets’ Cubs-killing second baseman in the NLCS shares the same name as the goat who was so famously denied entrance into Wrigley prior to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series.

Murphy meet Murphy. One of these days, we’ll get your goat.

Tasks at hand

Halloween hasn’t even arrived, but I’m already itching for the Hot Stove League to get cooking. This Cubs offseason should be the team’s most interesting in years with Theo & Co. having plenty on their to-do list.

And here’s what I’d like to see them do to bolster their roster: Sign a center fielder that can also lead off (Jason Heyward, anyone?), pick up another ace (David Price, Jordan Zimmerman or Zack Grienke would suffice), acquire a No. 4 starter (Tyson Ross or John Lackey, perhaps), strengthen the bullpen (Craig Kimbrel would be ideal), improve the team defense (outfield practice for Schwarber and Jorge Soler) and figure out what to do with the trio of Starlin Castro, Addison Russell and Javier Baez (I’m open to a trade, but would also be OK with them keeping all three).

Let the Games begin

Six years ago, after a game at Wrigley Field, I snapped a photo of the message on the sign outside of Murphy’s Bleachers at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland. It read: “CUBS GO FOR GOLD 2016.”

Sounds like a plan to me.

After all, Marty, 2015 is now so last year.