The Cubs are now inÂ the roughest patch of schedule they’ve had yet this season. Â They’ve split the first two games at home with the surging Washington Nationals, 1then three with the defending American League champion Royals2. Â Then they’ll be off to Miami to play three in that empty, giant, art museum, which should be a nice respite, but then it’s four more with the Nats. Â The rest of June isn’t great with road series in Detroit, Cleveland3, and the pesky Minnesota Twins. Â Plus there are four home games with the mighty Dodgers and another trip down to Dogpatch to play the Cardinals.
So all of his is DOOOOOM, right?
Well, temporarily, I suppose it could be. Â Even though the Cubs are talented, they’re young, and young teams do crazy shit. Â One week they’ll look like world beaters (say, for example, sweeping four games from the Mets) and then they’ll look like egg beaters (losing two of three–and only winning that one in miraculous fashion–in Arizona).
The fact that the schedule is getting tougher4 and that the Cubs are trying to figure out how to fix some gaping holes (like most of the bullpen and that giant, sucking hole in left field) while simultaneously contending mean that they’ll go through some rough patches.
But you have to give the little bastards credit. Â They go down swinging, don’t they? Â So far in May they’ve played 16 one-run games. Â Sure, some of that is good pitching and an underperforming offense (unless you are Anthony Rizzo or that skinny kid at third). Â But it’s not just games where they don’t score runs. Â These Cubs will fight you to the death. Â I know, it’s a shock to me, too. Â I think we’ll get used to it.
The National League looks like it’s shaping up in three distinct tiers.
The teams that are really good – Dodgers, Nationals and (ugh) Cardinals
The teams that suck – Rockies, D’bags, Brewers, Reds, Marlins, Phillies, Barves
The rest – Cubs, Giants, Mets, Pirates, Padres
It’s only May 27 and if I told you that we know who’s going to win the three divisions, you’d probably agree with me.
So that leaves five teams5 fighting it out for two playoff spots.
Hell, we could already have started the sprint to the finish and not even known it. Â The Cubs have 117 games left. Â Here’s something you cannot dispute. Â If they win them all, they will make the playoffs. Â Shocking, I know.
So how do the Cubs measure up to the four6 other contenders?
Well, not too bad so far. Â They’re 4-0 against the Mets, 6-4 against Pissburgh and 3-3 against the Padres. Â So, 13-7.
Conversely, Pissburgh is 3-0 against the Mets and 4-6 against the Cubs. Â They haven’t played either the Padres or Giants yet.
The Mets are 0-3 against the Pirates and 0-4 against the Cubs and haven’t played the Padres or Giants. Â Shit, do they ever beat anybody? Well, they beat the Marlins and Phillies like a drum they’re 12-3 against those two teams and 14-18 against everybody else.
The Padres have split six with the Cubs and are 4-3 against the Giants.
The Giants apparently have taken the first two months off. Â They haven’t played anybody but the Padres, and they’re 3-4 against them.
Actually, they’ve been busy beating the shit out of Los Angeles and greater Orange County. Â They’re 10-2 combined against the Dodgers and Giants.
The team the Cubs have the most direct control over is Pissburgh. Â They’ll play them 19 times this year. Â The Mets advantage is that they play in a terrible division with three lousy teams, and they’ve already shown they can handle the two worst ones pretty handily (and they are 4-2 against the Barves). Â The Giants mastery of the Dodgers doesn’t make any sense (they’ve won seven of the first nine against them, and swept a series at home this month where the Dodgers didn’t score a single run. Â The Padres? Â Meh.
First off, it’s just great that the Cubs figure to be in this thing until the end. Â After five years of terrible (even for them) seasons, the mere fact that they’re contenders is exciting.
But this isn’t a band of plucky overachievers. Â That’s what makes it so exciting. Â It’s the genesis of a talented monstrosity that figures to torment the National League for a decade. Â We’re in on the ground floor. Â When stuff like this happens:
It’s not just a solid young player having a nice moment to end an exciting game. Â It’s a future star finding his footing in the big leagues.
When this happens:
All we can do is stand there slack jawed and amazed. Â He’s a Cub, gang.
And then there’s this guy:
He’s the best of them all so far.
And we didn’t even get to Jorge, or Starlin, or the $155 million man, or Jake, or the Professor, or the two veterans Jed and Theo got to man center and catcher.
They were supposed to be pretty good this year. Â They’re already better than that. Â The Cubs care not for your timetable. Â Will they have enough to hold off the other wild card contenders? Â We don’t know. Â But they’re dead set on making a run at it and having a shitload of fun along the way.
Let’s just go along for the ride and see where it takes us.
It might not be the ditch.
Here are those annoying footnotes.
- The Nats are 21-6 in their last 27 games. Â Is that good? Â That seems like it would be good.
- So that REALLY happened, huh? Â Even with Ned Yost?
- The Indians have finally started to get their shit together
- Not that it’s been easy so far.
- Are we sure about the Padres? Â Or are they the White Sox of the NL? Â The team that was so bad last year that even by adding some good players, they just went from completely shitty to partly shitty?
- Again, maybe only three, I mean…the Padres? Â Fuck them. Â I hope Steve Garvey’s chronic genital warts somehow made the trip from Jack Murphy Stadium to Petco.