Anarchists' Brunch: Has It Been So Bad?

Before attending Wednesday night's game against Milwaukee, I was sitting at GMan Tavern, as is my wont. I was joined by friend of the program, 670 The Score's Jay Zawaski and a few friends of his and mine. They were talking about how this has been the most stressful Cubs season in recent memory. They remarked about how they haven't really enjoyed it all that much, though they were looking forward to how it ended.

I wondered how could you not have enjoyed this?

Yes, the Cubs offense has caused consternation, to put it mildly. As Joe Sheehan pointed out in his newsletter, it's not a bad offense, it's just extremely weird. It's great when there's no one on base, which is why it has some of the best OBP and wOBA marks in the National League. And it's pretty terrible when there's runners in scoring position, which is infuriating but hardly a plan. It just kind of worked out that way. And when you've spent months now watching them turn every game into an algebra test when you're hungover from the night before, it can get a little fatiguing.

And yet this Cubs team has had more obstacles thrown in front of it than the past three combined. You forget that last year's team was just a tad underwhelming, and that's it. It's not like anyone was hurt. It had some of the same struggles this one has had, with young hitters finding their way. But it didn't have the injuries.

This one has had more. Not only has it dealt with regressions or learning curves of Almora, Russell, Schwarber, Happ, and Contreras (over half the lineup on some days), it had injuries. Bryant's been gone, Rizzo had a month of either being on the DL or feeling the effects, Russell's been out. Now Morrow and Strop. It's a long list.

And yet watching them scratch out a division-leading amount of wins, finding ways to stay ahead of everyone, has been a joy. How can you watch them face the latest disaster or misfortune, and their response is to only smile bigger, get even sillier, and kind of mock the panic around them. There isn't really anything they can't shrug off. Have to fly to DC on what was supposed to be an off day for one game? Fine, Rizzo is just going to show up in his uniform because what isn't an opportunity for some laughs?

There's just two weeks left now, and the Cubs sit with a 2.5-game lead. There isn't a team in the league that wouldn't take that if offered back in March. The only reason is it's been as stressful as it's been is the Cubs are having to hold off the second-best team in the National League, who have also been the hottest. If they were in the West they'd have a 5.5-game lead. If they were in the East it would be four. Just a poor draw, that. And it's probably not going to matter.

Sure, there's a whiff of 2015 here, from the reverse. The NL's best team wins the division, but has a couple flaws, and the second-best team just so happens to be the wild card. Given how the Brewers have fared of late against the Cubs, some might be a little uneasy about them waltzing into Wrigley for Game 1.

Bring it. I want to see that starting staff in the playoffs. I don't buy it. Maybe I'm asking for it, maybe I'm setting us up for a crash that w'ell never get over. I doubt it, because there doesn't seem to be anything this Cubs team don't just smile at and take as something else they can make fun of later.

When this season's over, I feel like we'll all remember how much we liked this team, more than we did during the season. And with everything that's gone against them, maybe in these last two weeks, and the month that lies ahead, things will actually bounce their way. After all, if you fight through all the things you didn't and still stand at the top of the pile, you're probably due some luck.

 

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  • Every season is different. This one, whenever I've gotten the feeling 'we need to win this game' the team's has found a way. That is not to say that they can't be frustrating to watch, but wow, have they they stepped up with some sweet victories.

  • It's not supposed to be easy.

  • Agree with Sam that this one has been the most difficult. They never seemed to play well for any extended period of time other than their recent 7 game win streak......the SP started out poorly and the bullpen was real good, now it is the opposite. The hitting shows up every third day it seems. Javy Baez took the next step forward towards stardom while Kris Bryant hasn’t been the same since being hit in the helmet. All told it is still the first time I’ve seen 4 straight 90+ win seasons. What the Rickett’s have done in 7 years Reinsdorf never did in almost 40 and I almost feel sorry for them (but only because I grew up around here).
    ‘Suppose we need to worry about them going deep into the playoffs, but, do we? I don’t fear any other team, none are stacked like some of the AL squads and there are no NL staffs that should be able to shut down a Cub offense. I can see another World Series in Chicago, just not a likely championship.

  • The Cubs haven't been hit with the injury bug like this before, not in this window anyway, anyway and it looks to me like they'll win 95 games. That's absurd on it's face. They lost the guy they signed to be their number 1 starter, lost 2.5 months of their best position player (or at least he was going into the season), they lost their closer in July and yet here they sit. The exhausting part to me has been having to defend them all the time to my fellow fans.

    I look at the Cubs and Nationals and see mirror images. The Nats were considered by most experts to be slightly better than the Cubs in terms of talent but their wasn't a lot of argument that these were the two best teams in the NL. They've both had similar injuries although Washington didn't lose a TOR starter and while they did lose Daniel Murphy for most of the season, he wasn't their best position player. Still; they did have a lot of injuries which I think anyone would concede. The difference is that Washington will have to fight tooth and nail to win 83 games while the Cubs should get to 95 wins rather easily (8-6 the rest of the way). Yet the way some Cubs fans have approached this team you would think they were the barely over .500 team.

    Look, I'l readily admit that there have been times this season where the product wasn't exactly fun to watch but yet the wins keep piling up so, for me anyway, I've been OK with it. Especially considering that when you look at this team vs the rest of the NL going into the playoffs they match up pretty well thanks to some really smart trades. There is no better rotation going in that Lester, Hendricks, Hamels and Quintana and I don't even think you can argue that. Not only are they pitching like the best they'v got playoff and WS pedigrees (Q being the only one who hasn't clinched a playoff series win). Arizona is the only rotation that comes close and they look like they'll be sitting at home. Atlanta has a nice rotation with Folty and Newcomb at the top but they're inexperienced, Freeland and Gray are the same for Colorado. La has Kershaw and Buehler and not much else. Milwaukee has a very successful regular season rotation but would anyone compare Chacin, Anderson, Gonzales and Miley to our four guys, especially in talent and experience? I would hope not. I'm with Sam here this is supposed to be fun and that's how I want to look at it. Basically a win today coupled with a Brewers loss puts the Division out of reach in practice if not in fact (the've picked up 2 games in two weeks playing .750 ball to Chicago's .538 nearly a perfect storm). Now go Cubs, we want to be able to answer Barley Pop in the affirmative this afternoon right?

  • In reply to TC154:

    Agree, I still like our chances to win it all. It would be a team and org effort. Lots games to be played yet.

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