First, let me say that I'm not a fan of West Coast swings, as the requisite late starts force me to stay up way past my bedtime. And I'm on EST, so I'm fighting a 3-hour difference. Granted, the 10:15 first pitch gives me the ability to catch up on DVR'ed shows or to watch Fargo without missing much of the Cubs, but that doesn't fit with my whiny narrative.
But rather than just complaining about how late games mess with my lifestyle, I wanted to take a look at how they impact the Cubs. I was inspired, not just by the timing of Tuesday night's game in San Francisco, but by the appearance of former Cub Angel Pagan, who bears a strong resemblance to flash in the 80's pan, El Debarge.
See, I told you.
So while the Cubs didn't necessarily have a good time the whole night long in their 4-0 loss, they have fared better at night (.417) than during the day (.346) this season. That difference might seem nominal, but when you extrapolate it over the course of a 162-game season, there's a real impact. A 7.1% increase in W's equates to 11 more wins by the time September ends.
Much has been made of the Cubs' desire to play more night games at Wrigley, a fight they've waged with local government since 8/8/88, and one that will likely continue. Arguments have been made from various angles, but the only thing I'm concerned with is wins. They could play every game at 6am for all I care, as long as that's what gives the Cubs the best chance to win.
Mark Grace once said that the hardest thing about baseball is not playing a day game after a day game, but rather a day game after a night game. You see, playing with a hangover didn't really suit the Mayor of Wrigleyville all that well. I'm sure Mickey Mantle would have agreed with him. But what about the Cubs of late, say, over the last decade?
Well I'm glad you asked. In taking a look over the last 10 seasons, we find that the Cubs have won a total of 4 more games at night but that their winning % is actually better during the day. Of course, that performance is carried almost exclusively by the more halcyon times of 2007-09, when the Cubs combined to go 135-100 in games played under the sun.
|Day %||0.477||Night %||0.464|
Of the 20 different splits, you can see that the Cubs were .500 or better in only six, five of which came during the aforementioned 3-year stretch. Since 2010, the Cubs have gone 142-197 (.419) during the day and 150-205 (.423) at night, darn near an even split. If we once again use a full season as a barometer, this .4% difference equates to only .65 additional wins; nominal, yes, but still a better WAR than Darwin Barney (-0.3).
Truth be told, I was really hoping the numbers would inform me that my team plays much better at night, thus giving me a reason to quit complaining about late starts. Then again, day games mean following online instead of watching. I guess what the numbers say is that you can all feel free to keep bitching and moaning about start times, no matter your proclivity.
Then again, if we take just the past two seasons into account, the Cubs are winning about 3.9% more often under the electric stars. And while I'm sure picking up victories at a .425 clip isn't going to ease the worries on anyone's mind, it's perhaps a positive sign for a team expected to play more night games moving forward.
So when it feels like the world is on your shoulders and all of the madness has got you going crazy, just remember that the Cubs do play better to the beat of the rhythm of the night. Well, sort of.
Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman
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