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Cubs enter September still atop World Series odds at sportsbooks

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The Chicago Cubs boast baseball’s best record and the lowest staff earned run average in the National League, which is why their 2016 World Series champion odds have been lowered at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Entering the final month of the regular season, the Cubs are listed at +300 to win the World Series, which the Northsiders have not done since 1908. It does not take a long-suffering Cubs fan to know that finishing in the range of 100 wins isn’t a guarantee of postseason success, but the Cubs have a formidable big three in their starting pitching with RHP Kyle Hendricks, RHP Jake Arrieta and LHP John Lester.

Trading with the New York Yankees for closer Aroldis Chapman has also fortified the Cubs’ bullpen. Chicago has also had better than league-average production from six of their eight everyday players, including 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo.

October baseball is more about pitching and the fundamentals than putting up big numbers, which is why the AL West-leading Texas Rangers have seen their odds come down to +650. Texas has MLB’s best record in one-run games, thanks to a balanced lineup and a strong bullpen built around closer Sam Dyson. Texas should have RHP Colby Lewis back in time for the playoffs to join ace LHP Cole Hamels in their rotation.

The Washington Nationals are also listed at +650. Washington has a safe lead atop the NL East, thanks in large part to big years from 2B Daniel Murphy, RF Bryce Harper and Nos. 1 and 2 starters Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark. The Nats’ bullpen, particularly the middle-inning relief, is problematic. That could prove to be an Achilles heel in a NLDS matchup against the NL West winner, either the San Francisco Giants (+750) or Los Angeles Dodgers (+1400).

Whoever finishes second in the NL West will likely be a wild card. The Giants won the World Series in 2014 as a wild card, and LHP Madison Bumgarner and RHP Johnny Cueto have both been aces on championship teams.

The Cleveland Indians are listed at +800. Like Texas, Cleveland is balanced at the plate and in the field, where RHP Corey Kluber and closer Cody Allen have contributed to the second-best ERA in the American League. The AL Central and AL East winners are likely to meet in the first round, and it’s concerning that Cleveland is a combined 7-12 against the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays, whose middle relief has been problematic, are listed at +900. Toronto boasts a deeper starting staff than it did in 2015, when it slugged its way to within two victories of the World Series. Both the Orioles (+1200) and Red Sox (+1400) are excellent offensive teams, but pitching depth is an issue.

The defending champion Kansas City Royals are now listed at +20000. The Royals still have a mathematical possibility of a wild card spot, but disabled stints for relievers Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar and Chien-Ming Wang likely hurt their potential for a big finish.

Cubs overwhelming favorite for 2017 World Series futures

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No team has won back-to-back World Series since the turn of the millennium, but the Chicago Cubs are favored to do so after ending their 108-year drought earlier this month.

The Cubs opened 2016 at the top of the board and delivered by winning three elimination games in a row to defeat the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs will return almost all of their nucleus except for free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman, so it is no surprise that Chicago is at the top of the 2017 World Series odds at +350 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

With utilityman Javier Baez, 3B Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, SS Addison Russell and LF Kyle Schwarber all in their peak years, Chicago is well set up to be postseason regulars for years on end.

Only the 1998-2000 New York Yankees have gone back-to-back during the 22-season postseason history of the wild-card era. The afterglow of the Cubs winning has probably inflated the prices for other contenders. The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are each listed at +900.

The Red Sox will have five everyday players who will age 28 or younger next season and are rumored to be the landing spot for free-agent DH Edwin Encarnacion, who has turned down a qualifying offer from the rival Toronto Blue Jays.

The Dodgers won the NL West last season even though ace LHP Clayton Kershaw missed a third of the season, so clearly their ceiling could be even higher than last season’s 91 wins.

The Washington Nationals are listed at +1200, on the presumption that they might eventually have a bullpen to buttress the star power of RF Bryce Harper and RHP Max Scherzer.

Washington’s prospectus will change if they go against their emphasis on starting pitching and get in on the bidding war for one of the four prized free-agent closers – Chapman, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon.

Despite coming within one run of winning the World Series, Cleveland is listed at +1400 along with Toronto, the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants.

It seems strange to see the New York Yankees well down the board at +2500, but the Yankees are still in belt-tightening mode and are unlikely to add more payroll.

Best moments from the Chicago Cubs World Series parade

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It’s time.

Chicago Cubs fans waited for more than 100 years to celebrate bringing a title back to Wrigley Field and they wasted no time securing a spot to watch the parade.

Don’t get mad Blackhawks fans, but this was the biggest parade that the city of Chicago has seen since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

And it lived up to expectations.

Even Grant Park, where the Cubs will be ending their parade, was packed before the parade started.

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Other Cubs fans took to the great outdoors to conduct their parade.

Chicago’s well known for dying its river green on St. Patrick’s Day, but today, it’s blue.

In an incredible twist of irony, Chicago Public schools were scheduled to be closed on Nov. 4th anyway for a school improvement day, but some schools in the Chicagoland area were still given the opportunity to participate in the festivities thanks to a really cool principal.

On the buses, Anthony Rizzo was amped, while team grandpa David Ross discovered how to take a pretty well done selfie.

(Update: Kris Bryant is still wearing the belt.)

Travis Wood just got a little too excited.

Veteran pitcher Jon Lester has been through enough World Series parades to know that when they tell you to sit, there’s probably a good reason.

Walter Payton’s son, Jarrett, found a warm (and rather spacious) spot to watch the parade.

The intro of the day goes to play-by-play man Pat Hughes, who summed up exactly what all Cubs fans are thinking.

“Did anybody go to work today? Did anybody go to school today? Your teachers and bosses are all here, too.”

Theo Epstein reflected on the Cubs’ season and what this World Series meant to the team in an emotional speech at Grant Park. He mentioned that the rain delay during Game 7 was a big deal for the squad, and after introducing Joe Maddon, he relayed that he’s going to continue on his bender.

The Cubs manager also wore a “We Did Not Suck” shirt.

Miguel Montero and Jon Lester kept it short and sweet. Montero just said, “We Are Good!” and Lester called for more cheers for David Ross.

MVP Ben Zobrist spoke a bit longer, giving credit to Anthony Rizzo for playing Rocky movies all week long and David Ross for inspiring the team when the Cubs were down 3-1.

Anthony Rizzo gave credit to nearly every person associated with the Cubs, even giving the final out to owner Tom Ricketts. The most touching moment of the speeches was when the first baseman got emotional when introducing catcher David Ross.

Grandpa Ross revved up the crowd with a major CHICAGO, thanked his family, and then did the most millennial thing of all time.

He took a selfie with the crowd.

We made it through nearly the entire parade before we found the Cubs’ J.R. Smith: Travis Wood, who lost his shirt as Brett Eldredge closed out the event with a rousing rendition of “Go Cubs Go”.

For a celebration 108 years in the making, a turnout of 5 million people is tremendous.

Enjoy it, Chicago.