The oft-told story of the Chicago Cubs is they’re perennial underdogs.
In 2016, that was not the case.
The Cubs were huge favorites to win the 2016 World Series by the time that season started. Part of that was Cubs fans and their blind loyalty betting on them, pushing the odds down.
The Cubs opened with 11-to-1 odds to win the World Series, shortly after the 2015 season ended. They shifted to 8-to-1 shortly after. By the time the season started they were 5-to-1 (or 4-to-1 at some books). Only one other team (the San Francisco Giants at +800) had odds shorter than 10-to-1.
In other words, the 2016 Cubs not only came into the season with a long history of failure to overcome, but also the expectations of being heavy favorites. And they came through.
Cubs were dominant in regular season
When the story of the 2016 Cubs is retold — and it will be forever — it should also include that it was a fairly easy ride for those who bet them to (finally) win the World Series. At least until the World Series itself.
The Cubs started the season 8-1, and were 25-6 by mid-May and running away with the NL Central. They led the division by 8.5 games after winning on May 10. Their lead in the division was never less than 6.5 after May. There was truly never a moment during the 2016 season in which the Cubs winning the division and making the playoffs was ever in doubt. The Cubs went 103-58, their most wins since 1910.
The World Series odds kept dipping. They hit +300 by Sept. 1 and +225 by the end of the regular season, according to OddsShark. It was a team with a couple of stars in the lineup and a fantastic starting rotation that added an elite closer in Aroldis Chapman before the trade deadline.
The Cubs were expected to win it all and had a truly dominant regular season. But all those bettors and nervous Cubs fans weren’t banking on a great regular season. Only a championship, the franchise’s first since 1908, mattered.
Cubs were on the brink during World Series
It’s not like the Cubs weren’t challenged before the World Series, but they never faced an elimination game in the first two rounds of the postseason. They beat the Giants 3-1 in the NLDS. In the NLCS they fell behind the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 in the series, but won three in a row to advance to the World Series.
The way the Cubs were unchallenged in the regular season and never faced an elimination game in the first two rounds of the playoffs is probably a bit forgotten. That’s because everyone remembers how close the Cubs were to losing the World Series.
The Cleveland Indians, who were trying to break a long championship drought of their own and opened as fairly large +160 underdogs to win the World Series, won three of the first four games. For the first time in 2016, Cubs bettors had a reason to worry. The Cubs won Games 5 and 6. Game 7 was one of the most memorable games in baseball history, with the Indians tying it on a dramatic 3-run homer by Rajai Davis in the eighth inning. Joe Maddon was looking at a lifetime of questions about his bullpen usage through the series and Cubs fans were in for another year of self-loathing. But, the Cubs came through. They scored two in the 10th and won 8-7. All those Cubs championship betting tickets cashed … theoretically at least.
Many of those Cubs betting tickets were never even cashed, but saved as mementos of a long-awaited World Series championship. The Cubs have gone back to being a rebuilding team, all the way down the 2022 World Series odds at 100-to-1 at BetMGM. But Cubs backers will always have 2016, when the team was expected to win it all, and did just that.
Source: Yahoo Sports