Cubs-pedia: Everything you need to know about the Lovable Losers

The Chicago Cubs are all over TV and Twitter. Our Cubs-pedia is your A-to-Z guide to the North Side. Elias Stein

The Chicago Cubs are all the rage these days. Best team in baseball ... great young players ... a zany manager ... haven't won a title in more than a century ... you get the idea.

Will they finally win it all, or will their curses continue? Either way, you're bound to see even more of them on TV and Twitter this fall. As such, it's time for lapsed Cubs fans to brush up on their team (who is Bryzzo?) and for non-Cubs fans to learn the basics (what is that song they sing after every win?).

Our Cubs encyclopedia -- a Cubs-pedia, if you will -- has everything you need to know this October as you follow the exploits of the Lovable Losers (see "L" for more on that one).

Keep this nearby as you watch the playoffs and listen to the pundits. It's sure to come in handy. And the best part? There's no quiz at the end.

A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-X | Y-Z | 1


All-Stars: The Cubs had plenty this season. Chicago became the second team in MLB history to have its entire infield -- Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant -- named starters in the All-Star Game. The only other team to accomplish that feat, coincidentally enough, was the rival St. Louis Cardinals in 1963. Outfielder Dexter Fowler and starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester made the team too.

Arrieta, Jake: The Cubs ace revived his career on the North Side after struggling with the Baltimore Orioles. In 2015, he went 22-6 and won the Cy Young Award. This year? The All-Star (see above) threw his second career no-hitter. It happened April 21 against Cincinnati and remains the only one in the big leagues this season.


"Back to the Future Part II": Great Scott! The Cubs are (at least) a year behind on their World Series track, according to the 1989 sequel to "Back to the Future." Not only did the movie predict that the Cubs' year would be 2015, but it also included a prediction that Miami would have its own baseball team. Well, one down, one to go, right?

Ballhawks: See those people waiting out on Waveland Avenue for an out-of-the-park home run? They're there from batting practice to game's end in search of the next big blast from Bryzzo (keep reading).

Bartman, Steve: An equally abhorred and sympathetic figure in Cubs lore. Bartman snagged a foul ball from above the waiting glove of Moises Alou during the 2003 NLCS against the then-Florida Marlins. The gaffe happened with one out in the eighth inning, with the Cubs five outs away from the World Series. You can probably guess what happened next. A run scored, Alex Gonzalez botched a sure-fire double-play, and the Marlins put up eight runs to win it.

Baskets: Those wire cages along the outfield wall that look like the world's most useless awning aren't for catching fly balls. More often than you'd probably guess, they're there for catching Cubs fans. About as often as you'd probably guess, alcohol is involved. These are the Bleacher Bums, after all.

Bleacher Bums: The most raucous fans at Wrigley make their way to the bleachers. The sun doesn't fade, the fans tend to drink a lot more, and, well, the nickname makes sense. The seats behind the ivy wall make for a party-like atmosphere, and the tightly packed rows let fans rub elbows -- literally.

Brock For Broglio: This is the origin story of what's known as the Ex-Cub Factor (see "E"). Base-stealing outfielder Lou Brock and right-handed pitcher Ernie Broglio were the centerpiece of a trade between the Cubs and Cardinals in 1963. Brock, who left the Cubs, went on to bat .348 for a World Series-winning St. Louis team in 1964 (in 1985, he went on to the Hall of Fame). Broglio, meanwhile, won just seven games for the Cubs in three seasons on the North Side.

Bryzzo: Peanut butter and jelly. Bonnie and Clyde. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. The bromance between the Cubs' homer-hitting one-two punch gave birth to this moniker. The beast that is Bryzzo combined for 71 home runs and 211 RBIs in 2016. If Chicago's going to break its 108-year streak, Bryzzo will likely play a major role.


Caray, Harry: The most iconic announcer in Cubs history. Known for his passion in the booth, he remains a Chicago institution nearly two full decades after his death. There's a bar named after him and a steakhouse, and comedian Will Ferrell's hilarious impression helped bring him to a whole new generation of baseball fans. A famous Caray line for newbies: "It might be! It could be! It is!" Say that last bit after home runs if you want to boost your fan rep.

Celebrities: Jim Belushi, John Cusack and Hillary Clinton number themselves among the Cubs faithful. There are plenty more, including two farther down the list that we won't give away just yet (see "M" and "V").

Chicago-style Hot Dogs: Do. Not. Ask. For. Ketchup. Such sacrilege won't get you kicked out of the ballpark, but it'll earn some serious side-eye. Here's the rundown: yellow mustard, celery salt, slices of tomato, relish, diced onions, pickled peppers and a dill pickle spear on a poppy seed bun. Skip the exhausting list of ingredients by asking for everything on it. They'll know the drill.

Cubs Win!: You can probably guess when fans and announcers drop this line. Harry Caray (see above) made the moniker a post-victory staple. "Go Cubs Go" (see "G") usually follows.

Curses: Where to begin? Be it billy goats or black cats, Cubs fans have plenty of reason to believe supernatural hexes exist. An awful September that blew a postseason chance in 1969, being bumped from the playoffs in flukey fashion in 1984 and 2003 ... the list goes on. More like "Pray, Cubs, Pray," amirite?


Deep-dish Pizza: No, it isn't a casserole, and no, you can't fold it up like that flimsier stuff from New York. A slice or two of this staple of Chicago cuisine will fill you up, but don't bother asking a crowd for the best place in town. You'll likely get a dozen different answers.

Defense: It wins championships, right? Or is that only in football? Regardless, the Cubs have plenty of skill in the field, as shown by their Defensive Runs Saved. The Cubs had 82 at the end of the regular season -- 32 more than the second-best San Francisco Giants.

DNBAFF: An expletive-free version of what Cubs manager Joe Maddon writes on his lineup cards as a reminder to himself to remain unbiased when picking his starters. It stands for "Do Not Be A F---ing Fan." For Maddon, it's about what stats say is the best lineup -- not who's hot or cold.


Embrace The Target: A Maddonism the skipper coined during the offseason. The Cubs are in an unenviable and unfamiliar position as postseason favorites, so taking the target on their backs in stride has never been more important.

Epstein, Theo: Five years ago, the boy genius came from the Boston Red Sox, where he helped end another famous curse, and transformed the Cubs from bottom-feeders to the best team in baseball. Epstein gets almost all the credit for manufacturing this roster. We call him a mastermind; if he wins a World Series on the North Side, he'll be a legend.

Ex-Cub Factor: According to this theory, not only are the Cubs cursed -- but so are the teams of players who leave them. According to Ex-Cub factor lore, any team with three or more former Cubs on the roster is doomed to not win the World Series. Some even go so far to say a team with even one ex-Cub would most likely lose to a team with none.


"Ferris Bueller's Day Off": On June 5, 1985, Ferris Bueller played hooky and took in a Cubs game with a couple friends. Sure, it was a movie, but the game really happened. "BUELLERRRRRR!" might have been disappointed: The Cubs lost to the Atlanta Braves 4-2 in extra innings.

Friendly Confines: A nickname for Wrigley Field that promotes the amicable atmosphere at the park. Win or lose, Cubs fans are relatively tame, even to opposing fans. Well, except for maybe Cardinals and White Sox fans. But they have it coming.

Funeral Wishes: OK, this one's pretty morbid. Die-hard fans and former players often request to have their ashes scattered at Wrigley Field. Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks even asked for it. In 2008, then-team spokesman Jason Carr told The Chicago Tribune that the team got "a lot ... a lot" of pleas for one last, ghostly trip to Wrigley for the dearly departed.


Gatorade Glove: This is more ammunition for those who believe the Cubs are cursed. In Game 5 of the 1984 NLCS, Ryne Sandberg knocked over a cooler of Gatorade, which poured all over the glove of first baseman Leon Durham. Durham freaked out and debated grabbing a different glove. Following his coach's advice, he didn't, and then Durham and his godforsaken glove made a crucial error in the seventh inning. The Cubs lost. The curse won.

Go Cubs Go: Well, this is the year, and the Cubs are real. The late, great Chicago songwriter -- and long-suffering Cubs fan -- Steve Goodman is finally right, right? The anthem of every Cubs win was written by Goodman in 1984 with the thinking that, well, that was the year. It didn't pan out, but the song stuck. The voice of Goodman, who died that September, still blares through Wrigley Field every time the "W" flag flies.

The Goat: Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis brought his goat, Murphy, to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series at Wrigley. His goat stank, and fans complained, so he was kicked out. Sianis said the Cubs "ain't gonna win no more," which turned out to be largely true. It's clearly all his fault.

Grandpa Rossy: On a roster full of young stars, David Ross is an essential exception. The 39-year-old catcher is the veteran voice of the team. He might not be a home run machine, but he knows how to manage a game from behind the plate and is the linchpin of the clubhouse.


Hey! Hey! Holy Mackerel!: No doubt about it: The Cubs are gonna win today. This song, produced by Chicago native Johnny Frigo in 1969, is to pregame at Wrigley what "Go Cubs Go" is to the inevitable (just go with it) victory.


Ivy: Part of the inimitable aesthetic of Wrigley Field, the ivy along the outfield wall and the bricks that bear it are two of the most memorable features of the field for first-time visitors and longtime fans alike.


Jinxes: There's definitely a difference between these and curses. Jinxes, you see, are temporary. For instance, fans who say "there's always next year" every single year, thus re-upping a jinx on the coming season. Or the Sports Illustrated or ESPN The Magazine cover curse, for example. Cubs fans might like an issue dedicated to their team, but in the back of their heads, they're prepared to mug us for doing it.


KK(K)KKK(K)(K)(K)(K)(K)(K)KKKKK(K)KK: A May 6, 1998, win by starter Kerry Wood turned into the strikeout fest you see here. Wood got three straight strikeouts in the first inning, then rolled for 17 more in a complete-game shutout. Thirteen went down swinging; he caught seven looking. Although Wood lasted 14 seasons in the big leagues, injuries kept him from what might have been a Hall of Fame career.

Kontos, George: Thanks for the bit of cosmic relief, buddy. The San Francisco righty came on in relief during Game 2 of this year's NLDS and gave up a home run to Cubs reliever Travis Wood. The Chicago connection? Kontos pitched for Steve Bartman's team (see "B") during his pre-college career. Was the homer served up by the Niles West High School and Northwestern alumnus a sign that the curse is reversing?


The Lester Bunt Game: On July 31, Joe Maddon went all mad genius and brought pitcher Jon Lester on to pinch hit in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Mariners. The Cubs had erased a six-run deficit earlier in the game, and with a runner on third, they were staring down a momentum-turning win. Lester laid down a bunt -- a squeeze from a pitcher in crunch time. It worked, and it serves as another example of Maddon's willingness to test modern convention -- and his tendency to come out on top when he does.

"Let's Play Two": Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks' famous line exemplifies the eternal optimism of the Cubs in the face of constant failure. "Mr. Cub," as he was known, played 19 seasons with Chicago. His No. 14 is retired, and "Let's Play Two" is adorned on the wall of the walkway from the Cubs' clubhouse to the field.

The Lights Go On: Wrigley's first night game, on Aug. 8, 1988, was rained out. But that didn't stop much of the fanfare. By some accounts, scalpers raked in $500 on tickets to the game. Ernie Banks and Billy Williams threw out first pitches. The game was called before the end of the fourth inning, which means the "first" night game was unofficial.

Lovable Losers: Seriously, how can anyone hate a team that has been so bad for so long? So down on its luck? So known for its putrid play that it earns a nickname such as this? The Lovable Losers haven't been losing much this year, but their past makes the Cubs an easy rooting choice for fans whose teams are out of the World Series race.


Maddon, Joe: One of the most unorthodox and successful coaches in MLB this season. Luckily for Chicago, his head-turning choices, such as putting pitchers in the outfield, using a five-man infield and constant switch-ups in the batting order, have worked. He's a slogan machine too, as you can see up and down this list.

The Marquee: This is the most noticeable feature on the outside of Wrigley Field, and that's saying something. The red sign has a bit of a vaudeville look to it and welcomes fans to the "Home of Chicago Cubs."

Miksis To Smalley To Addison Street: There's a famous double-play combination that dates back to the last time the Cubs won a World Series (see "T"). This is not that deadly combo. Poor Eddie Miksis and Roy Smalley were a notoriously bad double-play combo in 1951, so much so that first baseman Chuck Connors got replaced by Addison Street, which runs parallel to the first-base line, in this play on the 1910 poem "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," which features the famous line "Tinkers to Evers to Chance."

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Just ask the Cubs. During the playoffs, between citing curses and jinxes and everything else, Chicagoans will have that old adage in the back of their heads. At this point, skepticism is hardly avoidable. It doesn't help that the name of the billy goat that supposedly haunts the Cubs was Murphy, that their owner the last time they won a World Series was Charles Murphy or that Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was the MVP of a four-game NLCS sweep of the Cubs last season.

Murray, Bill: Hey, here's that famous guy we talked about before (see "C"). It's not too much of an overstatement to say Murray is almost as well-known for his Cubs fandom as he is for his acting. He was in the booth for that first night game at Wrigley and is often seen at games between multimillion dollar gigs.


Nineteen-oh-eight: The most recent Cubs World Series win, which you've probably heard about, oh, a few thousand times by now. We won't belabor the point.

Nineteen-forty-five: The most recent Cubs World Series appearance, which you've probably heard about a bit less. The Curse of the Billy Goat came to be during this series (see "G"). Even at that time, the Cubs had the longest World Series drought in the league. Some things never change -- until this year, maybe.

Nineteen-sixty-nine: Hey, look, another year you'll likely see brought up throughout the playoffs. Chicago was ahead of the Mets by five games on Sept. 2 and had led the division since April 14. Then the Lovable Losers started owning the last part of that nickname. They dropped eight straight to fall 3½ games back and went 8-18 from September to October to finish eight games back.

NLDS: The Cubs vanquished the Giants in four games this year. If you believe in omens, you might like this one: Chicago's victory means San Francisco's run of even-year World Series wins -- in 2010, 2012 and 2014 -- is history.

North Side: This is the Cubs' geographic domain. Its origin is simple: The Cubs are located in northern Chicago, and the White Sox play on the South Side. It makes for a simple rivalry dividing line. Although the borders aren't as clear an indicator of fandom now, fans of the Cubbies are still called North Siders.


Obstructed View Seats: OK, fine, so in some ways, having a historic ballpark isn't all it's cracked up to be. There are, in fact, bad seats in the house. Support columns and overhangs at inconvenient positions around Wrigley interfere with the views of fans unlucky enough to sit behind them. Do your homework before you buy.

Oh No!: Ron Santo is one of the best-known Cubs, from both his playing days and his time in the booth for the Cubs Radio Network. One of his more memorable moments is -- surprise! -- a traumatizing one. Santo's "OH NOOOOOO!" call came during a 1998 game. With Chicago tied for the NL wild-card lead, Brant Brown dropped a routine fly ball, and Santo shouted in agony as Milwaukee scored three runs to take an 8-7 lead. The Cubs still got the wild-card berth, but man, is that shout the epitome of Cubdom.

Old Style: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Old Style. Cubs fans love their beer, and Old Style was the beer of choice at their ballpark for a long, long time. But when Budweiser and the Cubs reached a marketing deal in 2014, the North Side's beverage of choice was exiled.

Organ: They aren't just for cathedrals. This instrument is of particular importance at Wrigley Field. It's played by Gary Pressy, who's been behind the keys for every home game since 1987. It's another old-school signature of the Cubs, as symbolic as the ivy, scoreboard and marquee.


The Pink Hat Guy: That's Jim Anixter, arguably the most recognizable Cubs fan in the world. With his pink hat and green polo, Anixter sits in the first row behind home plate for just about every Cubs home game. A season-ticket holder since 1967, he's a source of jealousy for some and fashion criticism for others.

Prior, Mark: A dominant pitcher for the organization from 2002-2005, Prior was one of the key players in the Cubs' 2003 NLCS run. He also threw an eye-popping 211 1/3 innings that year. Prior was a workhorse until, finally, he was overworked. After 2005, his arm was all but out of juice, and he spent most of the 2006 season on the disabled list. He never played in the majors again.


Q Score: Add this to Kris Bryant's resume: He's the most-liked player in baseball. Q Score is the result of a survey of fans, and it measures the most popular and likable players in a sport. Bryant earned that honor, and the second half of Bryzzo -- Anthony Rizzo -- was sixth. They're just so adorable.

Quality Starts: The Cubs had 100 of these -- starts of at least six innings pitched with no more than three earned runs allowed -- among the five members of their starting rotation during the regular season. That tied with Toronto for the most in MLB. Each starter had more than 15, and Lester led the squad with 26, tied for second in the league.


Red Line: Public transportation is the least expensive route to Clark and Addison, and the Red Line drops fans off right outside the field. It's also the main route back to the northwest 'burbs.

Retired Numbers: Chicago has five numbers honored on its flag poles, along with Jackie Robinson's MLB-wide retired No. 42. The Cubs placed No. 10 (Ron Santo), No. 14 (Ernie Banks), No. 23 (Ryne Sandberg), No. 26 (Billy Williams) and No. 31 (Greg Maddux and Ferguson Jenkins) on that mantle.

Ricketts Family: The owners of the Cubs. They're credited with turning the formerly stingy franchise into the power player it is now. They fought for renovations and new additions to Wrigley Field, despite the outcry from some businesses and old-time fans.

Ronnie Woo Woo: Ronnie Wickers is a longtime Cubs fan with an affinity for shouting the word "Woo!" He has found his way into the bleachers for nearly every home game since 1960, and that includes, according to previous ESPN reporting, a period in the 1980s when he was homeless.

The Rooftops: You won't catch any home runs out on the rooftops surrounding Wrigley, but you can catch the game. Some of the rooftops across the block from the outfield wall have their own seating, signage and ticket packages for fans who want a different taste of the Cubs experience. Rooftop building owners, fearing for their building's sight lines of the field, were among the most vocal detractors of the renovations to Wrigley.

Run Differential: Holy cow. The Cubs' plus-252 at the end of the regular season made them the majors' best team in run differential by nearly 70 runs. Chicago gave up just 556 runs, far and away the best in baseball, and was No. 3 in runs scored with 808, behind only Boston (878) and Colorado (845).

Ruth's Called Shot: It wouldn't be a Cubs encyclopedia without players doing historic things against Chicago. Babe Ruth's famous -- and widely disputed -- called homer? It happened at Wrigley, of course, during the 1932 World Series.


Sandberg, Ryne: Ryno, as fans called him, is a Hall of Fame second baseman who played 15 seasons with the Cubs. A 10-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner, his No. 23 is among the half-dozen jerseys retired by the franchise.

Santo, Ron: Another Hall of Famer and jersey retiree. Santo made the All-Star team nine times with the Cubbies and became a broadcaster for the team in 1989, 15 years after he left the majors. Santo was also a diabetic, as he found out during a physical with the Cubs at age 18, and he went on to help raise millions for treatment of the disease.

Schwarber's Injury: It's hard to say just how much better the Cubs' offense might have been with this power-hitting catcher/outfielder in the lineup, but Kyle Schwarber's bat certainly wouldn't have hurt Chicago's chances. Schwarber had 16 home runs in just 69 games in 2015, but he tore his ACL and LCL on April 8 this year.

Scoreboard: There are actual people behind it, just like in the good old days. Another nostalgic piece of Wrigley history, the scoreboard in center field is adjusted by hand -- every inning, every game, every day there's a home game. There's an electronic board in left-center for the fancy, tech-loving types.

Screw The Closer: David Ross divulged the details of this fun game on May 10. The goal: Rob then-closer Hector Rondon of saves, and save Cubs fans from heart attacks. Score a ton, and don't give the closer a save opportunity in the ninth inning. It's all in fun, of course.

Sosa, Sammy: Famous for the pop, the hop, the steroids and the corked bat. Sosa and Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire squared off in a live-pitching home run derby throughout the 1998 season. Both broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record of 61 that year. Sosa finished with 66. McGwire, in meta Cardinals-beat-Cubs fashion, hit 70.


Take Me Out To The Ballgame: This song, sung during the seventh-inning stretch, gets a special twist at Wrigley. The Cubs often invite former team luminaries, celebrities or other prominent figures to belt out the lyrics. Very rarely is it sung well, but that's the fun of it.

Throw It Back!: Just do it! If an opposing team hits a home run and the souvenir ball winds up in your glove, hands or beer, don't keep that wretched thing. A real Cubs fan tosses it back onto the field. Doing so always gets some cheers out of the bleachers; the people who keep the balls earn jeers. (The smart ones bring an old baseball, toss that one on the field and keep the new one.)

Tinker To Evers To Chance: Once upon a time, the Cubs were so good that fans of other teams wrote poems about their deadly efficiency. Tinker to Evers to Chance, officially known as "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," was written by Franklin Pierce Adams in 1910, two years after the Cubs won the World Series. It's an ode to the 6-4-3 double-play combo of Joe Tinker (shortstop), Johnny Evers (second base) and Frank Chance (first base). If all goes according to plan this postseason, be on the lookout for a new poem, though Russell to Zobrist/Baez to Rizzo doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Try Not To Suck: The Cubs don't seem to have to try too hard, but this Maddonism provides a look at how he tries to keep the clubhouse loose. In line with the "Embrace The Target" (see "E") mantra, "Try Not To Suck" is about making light of pressure. And it has led to some really cool T-shirts.


Uniforms: The Cubs' home pinstripes aren't as well-known as the ones the Yankees wear, but at least Chicago's have some color to them. The white top with blue lines and the Cubs emblem to the left of the chest aren't flashy, but like the World Series drought, the look has had staying power.


Vedder, Eddie: The frontman of Pearl Jam made a song about the Cubs, whether most people realize it or not. "All the Way" is a tribute to his beloved team, and he sang it to the team following the 2015 NLDS and during an August concert at Wrigley.

Versatility: Chicago has plenty, and no player exemplifies it better than Bryant. The 2015 NL Rookie of the Year has played every outfield position, third base (his primary spot) and first base for the Cubs. Pitcher Travis Wood sometimes winds up in left field too. Zany but effective.

Vine Line: A fan magazine that features all Cubs content. It's been around for 30 years and was originally put together by the team. Now, it's outsourced to advertising firm EMI Network but is still a good place to go for optimism amid years of disappointment and assaults on fans' hopes and dreams.

"W" Flag: The "W" stands for win, and when the Cubs win, fans are expected to "Fly The W," a tradition that goes back decades to a time when "W" and "L" flags were flown above the Wrigley scoreboard to alert passing Chicagoans of the result of that day's game. Since then, the practice has spread. Check out #FlyTheW on social media, and you'll see flags on poles, flags in windows, flags on boats, flags on mountains. Lots and lots of flags.

West Side Grounds: The former home of the Cubs and the spot where they won the 1908 World Series. Before the North Side, Chicago was a dominant team on the West Side, where they played 22 years before moving to what was then Weeghman Park (now Wrigley Field).

WGN: "Your home for the Chicago Cubs" from 1948 until 2015. WGN used to broadcast Cubs games nationally, which helped grow the Cubs' popularity among fans in unexpected places. Now, the Chicago-centric broadcasts are shown only locally. Still, the broadcasters on the station and its radio affiliates are household names for Chicagoans, and the station gets a shout-out after every win in the "Go Cubs Go" sing-a-long.

Wind: Watch the flags at Wrigley, and you'll see why they call Chicago "The Windy City" (actually, that's not the real reason, but that story is for another article). On days when it's really whipping, the wind can play a big part in games. Don't count on it staying one way for long at Wrigley, either. The Midwest is known for its eclectic weather patterns.

Wrigley Field: Seriously? You've come down this far and still need an explanation of this place? OK, fine. Wrigley Field is the home of the Cubs and a national landmark. It's the oldest ballpark in the National League and second only to Boston's Fenway Park among MLB fields.

Wrigleyville: The neighborhood surrounding the park is bar-heavy and light on parking for nonresidents, thus the public transportation usage. The area is teeming with nightlife even when the Cubs are out of town, but when the "W" flag is out, it's even better.


X: In this case, the Roman numeral 10, which is how many winning streaks of at least four games the Cubs have had this season. That's the most for Chicago since 1945, when the Cubs had 13 such streaks. In all, the Cubs racked up 55 wins during those hot patches this season.

X factor: His name is Javier Baez, and he's been the MVP for the Cubs so far this postseason. From incredible plays at second base to go-ahead hits in Games 1 and 4, Baez played far above expectations, especially at the plate, in the NLDS. If he remains a solid bat at the bottom of an already dangerous lineup ... look out!


Yosh Kawano Field: None other than Ryne Sandberg suggested that if they ever rename Wrigley Field, they should call it Yosh Kawano Field. Who is Yosh Kawano? Kawano's story went from harrowing to legendary: He was in a Japanese internment camp during World War II and went on to be the Cubs' clubhouse manager for more than 50 years. After Kawano's retirement in 2008 at 87 years old, the Cubs named their clubhouse after him.


Zany Suits: Another Maddonism: "If you think you look hot, you wear it." And boy, did the Cubs wear ... whatever that is. Keeping the air in the clubhouse light is among Maddon's biggest tenets, and his relaxed dress code is part of that.

Zastryzny, Rob: Despite all of Epstein's maneuvering, his staff has struggled to bring pitchers up through the draft. In Epstein's five years with the Cubs, Zastryzny is the only pitcher who has made it from draft day to the major leagues. Luckily for Chicago, blockbuster trades work too.

Zobrist, Ben: He is the All-Star second baseman Epstein snagged from the World Series-winning Kansas City Royals. Zobrist is a utility man who has been a consistent bat for the Cubs this season and is among a flux of players who turned Chicago from a good team into the top team in baseball.


103: The number of wins Chicago had in the 2016 regular season. Of course, this number doesn't matter without postseason production, but the Cubs did make some history. This was the first season since 1910 in which Chicago had more than 100 wins. What's a few more?

105 mph: The top speed of closer Aroldis Chapman's fastball. The Cubs acquired the high-speed hurler from the Yankees in late July.

108: Ah, yes. The big one. This is the number of years it has been (of course fans have been counting) since the Cubs won the World Series. The most recent time Chicago won a title, there were 46 stars on the U.S. flag, Theodore Roosevelt was president and the Ottoman Empire existed. How's that for a history lesson?

Chicago Cubs historian Ed Hartig, ESPN The Magazine's Ed McGregor and ESPN.com's Matt Marrone and Dan Mullen contributed to this piece.