CHICAGO -- Oh, it is going to happen. It might not be in 2017 or 2018, for that matter, but it is going to happen. The New York Yankees will be back here at Wrigley Field, and it will be just as bitterly cold as it was this entire weekend. However, instead of early May, it will be late October or early November.
The Yankees and the Chicago Cubs are destined to meet in a World Series. If it is as good as Sunday-night-stretched-into-Monday-morning's game -- an 18-inning epic affair won by the Yankees 5-4 in 6 hours, 5 minutes -- then everyone will be in for a treat.
That is, of course, if everyone can stay up that late, as the game ended at 2:15 a.m. ET.
The teams struck out more batters than any two teams in one game ever, going down on strikes 48 times combined. Ultimately, the Yankees won because of 9⅓ scoreless innings from Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve. Finally, Starlin Castro's groundout brought home a run in the top of the 18th to give the Yankees a sweep of the defending world champions and the best record in baseball at 20-9. They look very much for real.
A Cubs-Yankees World Series seems preordained to happen, because these two organizations have too much young talent and too much money to not cross paths eventually. Yeah, there are freak things that occur in the playoffs that could prevent it, but everyone knows the Cubs have the DNA of a dynasty, while the Yankees have been impressive since pitchers and catchers reported in the middle of February.
The Yankees displayed their up-and-coming tenacity, as both young players (Luis Severino and Aaron Judge) and older (Jacoby Ellsbury) led the way -- allowing New York to look as if it would cruise to the finish line.
Severino pitched seven strong. Judge had the go-ahead RBI triple in the seventh. Ellsbury pulled a two-run homer. A three-run lead for their $85 million closer would figure to be enough. But Chicago knows that Aroldis Chapman is beatable. Chapman failed, but he was ultimately bailed out by his lesser-known bullpen mates.
“This clubhouse is very unified,” Chapman said.
In October, the Cubs proved how good they were. So, if this weekend was driven by finding out more about these 2017 Yankees, this is what we learned: The Yankees might already be rebuilt.
Of course, there is always the chance the Yankees are playing over their heads at the moment, that they are just on an extended hot streak to begin the season and the attrition of the six-month schedule will ultimately reveal the holes in their roster.
The game can change quickly, and just when you think you figured something out, it can fall apart as seamlessly as Chapman did on Sunday night.
But look at what we know right now. The biggest perceived weakness of this Yankees team entering the season was its starting pitching. Severino is answering the question of whether he can be a starter. His ERA dropped to 3.40. The other high-ceiling guy, Michael Pineda, has an even lower ERA, at 3.12.
Both starters are missing bats, while not walking opponents, which are very good signs. When you combine them with Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees might have a legitimate top three in their rotation. Jordan Montgomery is still a rookie and it's too early to make a call on what he is, while CC Sabathia started strong but is now struggling.
On offense, the real encouraging signs might rest in what the Yankees have not seen yet. While Judge, Castro, Aaron Hicks and others have been very good, the Yankees have received virtually nothing so far from catcher Gary Sanchez and injured first baseman Greg Bird. If you were told before the season that on May 9 those two had done nothing, would you think there is any chance the Yankees would have the best record in the American League?
(Psst, here is a not-so-little secret about the Yankees to also consider: They have more young guys coming. Outfielder Clint Frazier is starting to heat up at Triple-A. Shortstop Gleyber Torres is the second-best prospect in baseball, according to ESPN’s Keith Law. And, if -- when? -- the Yankees need to add a starter after the trade market opens this summer, general manager Brian Cashman is armed with the goods to go out and shop in any aisle he pleases.)
But here the Yankees are, looking like a legitimate playoff contender and very possibly a team that could make some noise into late October.
On Sunday night and Monday morning, it felt like it might never end between the Yankees and Cubs. It was probably just the beginning.