“I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
From the point of view of the 2010s Cubs, one could argue that their true antagonist has been the Milwaukee Brewers rather than their historical rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. In two consecutive Septembers, it was Milwaukee that twisted the knife, first by catching up and taking the division on the back of an eight-game winning streak in 2018, and then by winning 11 out of 12 in 2019 to leave Chicago choking in the dust. They even managed that last one without Christian Yelich, a feat not unlike the magician’s grand reveal at the end of a particularly exciting illusion.
As far as rebuilds go, the mid-decade one by Milwaukee was not too traumatic. In 2014, the Brewers burst out of the gate unexpectedly, winning 10 of their first 12 games, giving them first place in the NL Central. Despite projected win totals in the mid-70s, Milwaukee’s 20-8 April gave the club enough of a cushion that when the inevitable regression toward the mean occurred, it…