Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 5, 2008
BASEBALL: These Are The Saddest of Possible Words

I really do have to feel for the Cubs fans today. I mean, there are more wrenching ways to end a season, as I have been forcefully reminded the past three years, but this was a team that had a sufficiently long run as the best record in the league that their long-suffering, century-without-a-championship fans, really had good reason to expect a long march through an exciting postseason, with a good shot at the NL pennant for the first time since 1945 and a fighting chance to reclaim the World Championship at last...and three games in, they are just gone with hardly a ripple, without winning a single game. It's just so deflating. Even the Mets in 1988 and 2006 went seven games, and in 2006 they had won the NLDS first. For Cubs fans, it's just...empty.

Do Cubs fans have a long period of success ahead of them to recover from this? I'm not so sure. Ramirez and Lee are still in their primes and Soto is young, but Theriot, Soto and Mike Fontenot, who may have had a career year this season (he's 28 and his career minor league slugging % is .437), are the only significant non-pitchers under 30. The rotation depends on the much-the-worse-for-wear Zambrano and the brittle Rich Harden. Other than Harden, Fontenot and DeRosa there aren't a lot of guys here who obviously can't repeat their 2008 seasons next year, but this is also not a team stocked with young talent in bloom.

Wait 'til next year.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:45 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

...and three games in, they are just gone with hardly a ripple, without winning a single game. It's just so deflating.

That's EXACTLY how the Phillies fared last year. Granted the Cubs had the best record in the NL this season and could therefore have expected more, but "Wait til next year" is hardly consolation.

Posted by: Phils57 at October 6, 2008 1:09 PM

I know the Cubbies played poorly, but does anyone think the Dodgers are a better team? I don't.

I don't think the opening round should be 5 games, it should be 7. Too many great teams have been beaten in the last few years that might've had better luck in a longer series.

Just another way that baseball makes the actual season meaningless.

Posted by: Dorce at October 6, 2008 2:21 PM

No, the baseball season makes sure that only reasonably good teams get in, which the NHL and NBA don't guarantee.

The Dodgers won because they had hotter pitching and too much Manny. Manny. Like Reggie. Amazing how they always wind up on winners.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 6, 2008 2:45 PM

I think you're wrong, Daryl.

Name the last "reasonably un-good" team that won the NBA championship? Sure, they let more into the playoffs but they play long enough to weed out the crap.

What was the advantage for the Cubs in having the best record in the NL? None -- they had to play a short series against a team who had "hot" pitching, as you say. Case closed.

Do you think the Marlins were the best team in baseball in 2003? The Cards in 2006? How about if the Phils or Chisox win this year?

Short series have always equaled "better team" might go home early in baseball. It did from 1969-1986 and it does today...

Posted by: Dorce at October 6, 2008 5:35 PM

While I do feel bad for all "true" Cubs fans, that franchise seems to have an disproportionately high number of "bandwagoneers." (Note, I wouldn't use the term "glory riders," as with the Cubs, there's little glory upon which to ride... zing!). For those fans, I've little sympathy. But as a true Phillis fan, I know the pain felt by true fans, as I've been there too.

Posted by: Mark D at October 6, 2008 7:22 PM

Tonight it could be worse to an Angels fan.

Posted by: Henry at October 6, 2008 11:40 PM

Dorce, the illness known as "shortseriesitis" has infected Cubs fans since 1906. So why you picked 1969 as the start (the Mets? who were a pretty good team with sensational pitching, BTW--they did win 100 games) is interesting. Just a quick look:

1960 Yankees
1954 Indians
1953 Dodgers

And don't even bring up the Mariners with Lou!!!

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at October 7, 2008 8:41 AM

Daryl - I believe he used 1969 to show the start of short series playoffs. Of course, taking it to 1986 makes no sense, since the LCS expanded to 7 games in 1985 (that year, the Royals came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Blue Jays - something impossible to do the year before in a best of 5 format).

Wild card is something regrettably necessary to improve interest in many markets during August and September. Not sure this year that a short series made the difference in the Cubs' demise. Not winning either game at home tends to doom a team in a 7 gamer as well (exceptions notwithstanding).

The 2003 Marlins? They won more games than the Cubs that year. The 2006 Cardinals were not a great team, but they tanked at the end too, losing 9 out of 12 to stumble home.

I agree with the idea that the 4 playoff teams in each league, for the most part, aren't that different in terms of talent and ability most of the time. The fact that one of them may have won a few more games over the course of 162 and 6 months isn't all that consequential.

Posted by: DS at October 7, 2008 10:24 AM

The 2001 116 win Mariners got through the short series (when Cleveland fell apart after scoring 17 runs in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead) but were swept aside by the Yankees fairly easily in 5 games. That Mariners team caused a lot of hype here in the NW but for people who had 25 years or more of baseball watching under their belts you could tell that team was headed for the skids in the post-season. They had no shut-down pitching of any kind (no starting pitcher with an ERA under 3, two over 4 and their closer was a mid-3 ERA guy who gave up the occasional walk off shot) and little post-season experience. That was a great record by a good team.

Posted by: jim at October 8, 2008 5:16 PM
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