You don’t need to eat at Arby’s to feel nihilistic about the Cubs, but I will say the chain’s new chicken nuggets are a helluva lot more enjoyable than watching whatever it is that passes for baseball on the North Side these days. It’s gotten so bad that anyone following the game could only feel good about Frank Schwindel‘s bases-clearing, go-ahead double for an instant before they realized it only meant the team would find a way to blow it.
Even though that old curse has long since been lifted, Sergio Alcántara had the misfortune of playing the goat Saturday night, booting two routine grounders on consecutive pitches to open the door for a Miami comeback. The normally sure-handed shortstop had made a terrible throw earlier in the contest that allowed the Marlins to stage a two-out rally that resulted in their first three runs.
That means the Marlins scored five unearned runs while striking out 10 times and walking just once. The pitching staff did its job for what felt like the first time in forever, but Alcántara saw to it that the Cubs maintained their downward trajectory. I don’t want to insinuate that his errors were in any way intentional, as I don’t believe that was the case at all. It’s just that a string of such costly mistakes in light of the Cubs’ circumstances feels like some bastardized form of fate.
“He had a rough night, but I think that happens to anybody that’s able to play this game long enough and have the privilege to play at this level,” David Ross told reporters after the game. “You’re going to have some bad nights, so you’ve got to turn the page. The quicker you flush it, the quicker you’ll be able to contribute to us. [If] you hang onto it, it’s not going to be good.”
Oh, the Cubs have flushed it, alright. And just like an Australian toilet, they’ve been flowing in reverse since late June as they circle the drain in search of the worst record they can possibly achieve. At 52-67, they now need to go 11-32 to avoid losing 100 games after being in first place less than two months ago. In case you think a .256 winning percentage is a sure bet, consider that they are 10-34 (.227) over their last 44 games.
That isn’t just a convenient period that matches up well with their remaining schedule, it’s what has transpired since they were last in first place. The Cubs threw a combined no-hitter in Los Angeles on June 24 in what stands as the unequivocal high point of the season and it’s all been downhill since then. Things look even bleaker when you realize that 29 of the last 44 games came prior to the trade deadline.
If a team that had Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin, and Ryan Tepera was that bad, what happens with the current roster? It’s not an exaggeration to say we might be witnessing the worst Cubs team of at least the last 50 years. Maybe ever. They likely won’t end up surpassing the 1962 and ’66 teams with 103 losses, but the possibility exists that they’ll be 20-67 or worse over the final 87 games of the season.
That .230 winning percentage would be 134 points below the aforementioned seasons for worst in club history. Even the putrid 1981 club won at a nice .369 clip during that strike-shortened campaign. Take out their 18-9 record in a hot May that made them feel like contenders and the Cubs are 34-58, which comes out to that same .369 winning percentage. I know I’m picking cherries here, but the fact of the matter is that the Cubs were not good even before they sold off a huge chunk of the roster.
Saturday’s loss moved them into the ninth spot in the 2022 draft and the possibility exists that they could move all the way up to fifth by the time Sunday’s games are over. That’s probably about the best they can get because even continued putrescence can’t catch up to the prolonged futility in Pittsburgh or Texas, let alone Baltimore or Arizona.
I know the horse died a while ago and I’m pretty sure I tore my rotator cuff hitting it with this stick, so I’ll stop here. Before I go, though, I’d like to leave you with a little advice: Fan however the hell you want to. If you choose to disavow this team for the remainder of the season because you don’t want to support an organization that is actively seeking to fail, that’s fine. And if you choose to wear your Cubs gear while cheering just as hard as ever for players who probably won’t be around next year, that’s fine too.
Just do what’s best for you and let’s see where this thing ends up going once the season ends.