It was a cool afternoon at Wrigley, but the sun was shining brightly enough to confound the Pirates defense. Well, for one play anyway. Dexter Fowler led off the game with a ringing pop-up that just barely reached the outfield grass. It was the kind of omen that generally portends good fortune from the BABIP gods. Bucs starter Gerrit Cole, however, was more than happy to throw shade in more ways than one.
Curried favor is a dish best served hot, but Cole was putting together mad bowls of revenge gazpacho Sunday afternoon. He effectively shut down the Cubs to tighten the season series to 1-5 and bring his team to within 8 games of the NL Central leaders. It was the Cubs’ second loss to a team with a (barely) winning record, which does kind of call into question the street cred of their own 27-9 mark.
As far as Cole’s concerned, there’s really no question at all.
“I don’t really think they’re the best team in baseball,” the underpaid ace proclaimed in the wake of his team’s resounding 2-1 victory.
It sounds kinda silly on the surface, but a little basic research tells you that Gerrit might have merit in his assessment. After all, the Braves have won as many games against the Cubs as the Pirates have, and that’s in only two games played. The Rockies and Padres have won twice as many in half the attempts the Steel City Swashbucklers have made. No way could the Cubs have lost to all those bad teams and still lay claim to the title of “best in baseball.”
But wait…if the Cubs aren’t the best and they’ve lost to all those teams, what does that make the Pirates and their minus-25 run differential vs. the not-best team?
Probably best not to answer that honestly at this point. Best to just let the Pirates bask in the glow of victory while humming along to the dulcet tones of Josh Harrison singing “No, Cubs, No” (h/t Brad Robinson, who first tweeted it) as his teammates enjoyed a little postgame revelry.
It’d be easy for Cubs fans to take umbrage with such an affront to their own victory anthem, but you can’t blame Harrison. After all, his team and their fans have been begging “no, Cubs, no” over the course of the last several games these teams have played. I don’t think it was mockery or sad bastardization, just a matter of applying a jauntier tune to the dirge Pittsburgh’s been chanting lo these last few months. Nothing wrong with a little happiness.
A little perspective never hurt either, though there’ll be plenty of time for that when the Jolly Roger sails back to port. The Pirates will have a month to marinate in the juices of this newfound rivalry before they return to Wrigley for a three-game set starting June 17. Then they’ve got another three weeks before the Cubs head east on July 8. I’ll actually be attending the Saturday game in that series and am anxiously awaiting the atmosphere.
All joking aside, it’s certainly more exciting to support a team that can incite so much emotion and so many visits to the proctologist. This must be what it’s like to be a Cardinals fan.
Whether Cole believes it or not, the Cubs are the best team in baseball at this point and they still boast a 99 percent playoff projection. They’re still on pace for 121 wins and they’ve got the largest run differential in the game by a wide margin. And even if they just win two of every three games from here on out, they will finish with 110 victories. So throw all the shade you want, the Cubs have lights now.