Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Chicago Cubs: Three Reasons to Keep Watching

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Consolation prizes don't really exist in professional sports.

People will have you believe that they do in all sorts of forms, but when you really strip away all the pomp and circumstance, if you aren't hoisting a championship trophy or punching a ticket to the playoffs, the season has been a loss. And no amount of "looking on the bright side" will change that.

With just about two weeks remaining in the regular season, the football season has commenced, basketball and hockey are on the horizon, and, unless you're a fan of the 15 teams still in contention, attention spans are waning all across the country.

Enter the 2013 Chicago Cubs -- one of the 15 other teams not in contention. As Cubs Nation continues to patiently wait for the Theo Epstein rebuilding project to pay dividends in the form of playoff appearances, it can be tough coming up with reasons to bother with turning on your television set or radio.

Here are a few reasons why you might consider turning them on:

Who They're Playing

Speaking of no consolation prizes, having a shot at determining your division from the cellar is as close as it gets. After almost worthless series with the "We're-As-Bad-As-The-Cubs" Milwaukee Brewers and the "We-Don't-Lose-At-Home" Atlanta Braves, the Cubs close the season with three against the Pittsburgh Pirates and three against the St. Louis Cardinals. These days, being demoted from division winner to wild card is potentially a season-altering event. It looks as if the Cubs will have a clean shot at doing just that to one of them.

Watch Them Rebuild

At the time of this writing, the Cubs have already won two more games than they did in 2012 with 13 left to play. Often times ending a season strong is an important catalyst to starting the next well, so for those who are watching the Cubs' rebuilding plan step by step, these final two weeks could be a nice snapshot -- especially considering about half of their minor leagues is currently on the roster.

Jeff Samardzija

As I wrote previously, I don't think the Cubs should sign Jeff Samardzija to a long-term contract. I'm clearly in the minority here. But whether you agree with that or not, these final few starts for Samardzija are direly important for him if he's hoping to cash in on a lucrative contract. His entire season has been an inconsistent mess (by supposed-ace standards, anyway) -- 4.44 ERA,16 quality starts in 30 outings, and a WAR of only 0.6.

These numbers might be tolerable for a middle-to-low-end starter, but not for someone who is supposedly going to be a rotation anchor for years to come. Samardzija has an ERA over 8.00 in his last three starts. Without a strong showing to close the season, the decision concerning his future might get a bit foggier than planned. Well, at least it should.

Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo Contributor Network and Yahoo Sports . He is also a senior majoring in Creative Writing.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (38)