What Were the Odds If You Put $50 on the Nationals to Win the World Series?

It’s one of the great rivalries in sports: the Chicago Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals. One of the iconic images of the 2017 World Series was Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo catching a home run off the bat of reigning Most Valuable Player Cardinals receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. While it was a great World Series finale, it was hardly a fair fight. The Cubs had a distinct home-field advantage, and the Cardinals had to travel across the country for every game. It’s not every day that you get to see the best players in the world duke it out on your favorite team’s turf, particularly when it’s not your team you’re rooting for. Sure, you might get to see some exciting plays and a few lucky ducks along the way. But it’s a far different thing when it’s your team that wins, and your team that loses.

Even diehard Cardinals fans have to admit that the odds of the 2017 World Series were stacked against them. The Cubs were heavy favorites, having won the National League Pennant 12 games to 4, and going on to knock off the Houston Astros in five games. With Albert Pujol’s perfect game in the first game of the World Series, it didn’t get much closer. If you bet $50 on the Cardinals, you would have won $250, provided you picked Chicago to win the World Series, according to OddsShark.com. The money would have been about twice as much, provided you bet $100 on the Cards. Even with those odds, the drama of the 2017 World Series was totally worth it.

With the Cubs winning the World Series, and the Cardinals seemingly out of the championship picture, it’s time for the fans of St. Louis to start looking forward to the future. One of the first big challenges for the Cardinals will be building a new ballpark, since their current home, Busch Stadium, is more than forty years old. If the team wants to remain contenders, they will need to move soon. Otherwise, the odds of them repeating as World Series champions will continue to grow longer.

How Will the 2018 Series Be Different?

Even before the 2017 World Series, the Cardinals had a poor reputation as contenders. They had not won a World Series since 1982, and had not even made it to the Championship Series since then. The situation was particularly bad considering that their previous three World Series appearances had all been in interleague play, with two coming against the hated Chicago Cubs. In 2017, they took the field with their most valuable player, Carlos Beltran, recovering from arm surgery. He had been their best player the previous two seasons, with an average of 112 RBIs a year. It seemed as though the Cardinals might finally burst out of their slump, and make some noise in the postseason. Even before the 2017 World Series started, it seemed as though the Cubs might have another championship to their name.

While it was a great story, and the Cardinals certainly improved their regular-season record by 12 games, it was hardly their most impressive achievement. After going down in four games to the eventual World Series Champion Cubs, it was time for the Cardinals to admit that the 2017 season was probably their best shot yet at winning the World Series. Coming off a season where they had the third-worst record in baseball, it was a massive achievement for a relatively mediocre team to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. Much will depend on who they draft with the first pick in the upcoming draft, and whether or not they are able to sign any promising young pitchers.

What Will the New Ballpark Look Like?

With a new season comes a new ballpark. The Cardinals will need a new home after sixty years at a cozy downtown St. Louis location, Busch Stadium. Located in the south section of the city, it will be easy for baseball fans to get to, which is a major advantage for any professional sports team. Despite its name, Busch Stadium isn’t very old, and it’s not even in downtown St. Louis. It was originally built in 1978, and was the home of the Houston Astros until 2006. Since then, it has been the home of the Cardinals, and has been updated with the latest in baseball technology, including the addition of a retractable roof. It is not completely without its quirks, however. For example, the seats are rather low, and there is no grassy knoll in center field. In 2016, the team spent over $26 million on refurbishing and updating the stadium. It will be interesting to see what future renovations the team decides to make, if any at all. They could probably knock off a few million bucks, and upgrade the sight-lines from the stands.

The Cardinals will break ground on their new ballpark in the next couple of months, and will open their doors for the first time in April, 2018. It is not yet known what they have planned for the naming rights of the new stadium, but it is safe to assume that it will be a combination of the previous two World Series champions. If they want to retain the “Faith and Family Night” moniker, it is likely that they will have to rename the stadium. The new ballpark will seat at least 47,000 spectators, with a chance to be near the top of the list of the largest sports venues in the United States. As mentioned above, it will be easy for the fans to get to. The Cardinals have been known to draw around 500,000 viewers for their Sunday Night Football games, which are held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. It will be interesting to see if they can continue that popularity at their new ballpark, which will be built in the heart of the city.

Will the Cubbies Win the Series a Fourth Time?

Last but not least, let’s discuss the Cubs. It’s been a rough couple of years for the Chicago Cubs. They haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and have only made it to the Championship Series once, in 2016. They will be looking to change all of that in the coming year. Led by rookie manager, Joe Maddon, the Cubs had one of the greatest offseasons in franchise history. They made some fantastic, yet somewhat surprising moves, landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice, and signing several big name players. They also traded for Kris Bryant, who many consider to be the best third baseman in baseball.

Bryant will be joined by Jon Lester, another stellar pitcher who had been with the Cubs since 2013. Together, the two had a combined record of 133-83 in four seasons with the team. Add in former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles, and three more All-Stars (Kyle Schwarber, Javier Báez, and Albert Almora) and you have the makings of a very good team.

Last year, the Cubs finished third in the NL Central, and made the National League playoffs. They were quickly swept out of the NLDS by the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals. That series loss still stings, considering that the Cubs led, 3-1, after the first two games at Wrigley Field, before ultimately falling out of contention. It was a rough year, to say the least, and the fans are thirsty for a return trip to the postseason.

It’s been a long time coming, but finally, the fans of Chicago can cross their fingers and hope for a glorious 2018 World Series. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Cubs, but with the right moves, a lot can change in a year. With the wind in their favor, it is finally time for the Chicago Cubs to put all of that pain and suffering in the past, and establish some dominance in the baseball world. And what better way to start the new year than by winning the World Series? It’s about time.