Can the Cubs Dance to the Rhythm of the Night?

Can the Cubs Dance to the Rhythm of the Night?

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 Night
Year W L % W L %
2014 9 17 0.346 10 14 0.417
2013 31 49 0.388 35 47 0.427
2012 35 46 0.432 26 55 0.321
2011 32 42 0.432 39 49 0.443
2010 35 43 0.449 40 40 0.500
2009 44 33 0.571 39 45 0.464
2008 48 29 0.623 49 35 0.583
2007 43 38 0.531 42 39 0.519
2006 31 42 0.425 35 44 0.443
2005 41 44 0.482 38 39 0.494
349 383 353 407
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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  • El Debarge a flash in the pan? Then I guess you forgot his classic song for the movie Short Circuit, "Who is Johnny?" Worth a look for it's low budget look and impossible to follow plot, even by 1980s MTV standards.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Johnny 5 is alive!

  • Supposedly part of the reason for the Cubs slightly worse record in the day was all the consecutive games in 90 degree heat. On the other hand, this year there were the mess of night games in the 40s.

    If one believes what's being published today in the Sun-Times about "look first at other Chicago sites," build a domed stadium at 59th and Halsted, and this problem is solved, too.

  • In reply to jack:

    Also, the coverage of the "unveiling" indicates that Cubs management thinking was in line with what I said a couple of days ago that 100% of everything was preferable to 17% of nothing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    I just wish I knew how to put links into the text of a comment.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I explained it to someone on another Chicago Now blog, and rather than retype that from memory, you can look here. Basically, it relies on that the comment box will accept a rudimentary bit of HTML, if the tags are typed, as in the linked illustration.

    I thought that by being a blogger, you had a better toolkit, including to modify comments, but whatever.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    Hmm, like linking to this same article?

  • Now I have bad songs stuck in my head thanks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Dude, you know you're tapping your feet and singing, "I know a place where we can dance the whole night away." Or maybe that's just me.

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