The Cubs have won 8 in a row and 14 of 15 and now find themselves 18 games over .500 and in possession of both the 4th best record in baseball and the second Wild Card spot. Hold on, that can’t be right. The Cubs are 18 games over? They have a better record than the Yankees, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Nationals? They’d be leading 4 other divisions? I’ve gotta go look at that again.
Wow, yep, the math all checks out. Even if the Cubs maintain a dead-even record through the rest of the season, they’ll finish with 90 wins. I don’t care how rosy your glasses are, that’s not a number you’d have guessed prior to the start of the season. And it’s sure as heck not a total you’d have pegged after the Phillies mopped up what looked like a flailing squad of overmatched youngsters a couple weeks ago.
I’ve been saying throughout this season that this team is just more fun to watch than the product we’ve been subjected to — granted, necessary evil and all that — in recent years, but until this current run I hadn’t recalled just how fun things really could be. I mean, the Cubs are looking really, really good. Historically good, relatively speaking.
Cubs have won 14 of 15 for first time since 2001 and just the fourth time in 75 years. Pitchers have 2.60 ERA. @Cubs
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) August 15, 2015
Not the 2003 team, not ’07 or ’08 either. Man, that’s really saying something. And it’s not as though they’ve just been beating on on a bunch of scrubs, either. Well, the Brewers are a bit of a dumpster fire right now, but the Giants are no slouches and the Pirates are one of the 3 teams with a better record than the Cubs. Throw in wins against the Rockies and Sox and you’ve got something to feel pretty darn good about.
But not everyone is feeling good. In fact, there’s actually a palpable unease running through some of the commentary out there and I’d be lying if I said I was completely immune to it. “Cubs gonna Cub,” goes the flippant dismissal of joy and success on the North Side, even by some of those who claim undying allegiance to the team. We’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop so that we can get back to complaining about our team, rather than praising it.
And I say “we” because, like it or not, we’re in this together. As much as I’d like to throw a few of my fellow fans off the starboard bow as this ship sails into smooth waters, I have a feeling they’d somehow end up hanging on. After all, you can’t kill that which does not die. And we Cubs fans, some more so than others, have been shuffling around like the walking dead, just waiting for the chance to regain our humanity.
We hope against hope that our team will indeed be better, though many refuse to step fully out on that faith the impossible dream will finally come true. And maybe that’s the problem, that inability to really, truly commit to it. If you want to truly experience the joy that will one day be ours, you can’t try to also shield yourself from the pain. Sure, it sucks to be burned, but that’s the price you pay.
I had honestly meant to write about how well the Cubs have been playing over this stretch, how their pitchers have posted a 2.60 ERA and allowed only 11 home runs while the offense is scoring just over 5 runs per game and has jacked 22 homers. I wanted to write about Dexter Fowler igniting the offense from the leadoff spot and Kyle Schwarber hitting bombs from the two-hole, about Rizzo bouncing back.
Then I got a case of the feels and got off track a bit. Please understand that this isn’t necessarily meant as some kind of diatribical skreed against those folks who do nothing but complain, though they are certainly in my crosshairs. No, this is aimed as much at myself as any of them, or any of you, for that matter. I need to let go of the notion that this is all a mirage and that this team isn’t really as good as what we’re seeing.
Because you know what? It is real. This team can be that good. So I’m gonna take that other shoe, I’m gonna put it on my foot, I’m gonna tie that sumbitch up tight, and I’m gonna walk around it for the rest of this season. You’re welcome to follow, but I suggest to make similar choices with your footwear because it’ll look awfully strange to see everyone walking with a limp.
I feel bad about calling the Brewers a dumpster fire earlier, as that’s neither accurate nor fair; they’re really more of a toxic chemical spill