Kyle Trompeter. 19th August, 2005 - 5:02 pm
The 2003 and 2004 Chicago Cubs were able to do something that no Cubs team was able to do in over 30 years, and that was have two straight winning seasons. It is kind of a dubious accomplishment to most. But, to the Cubs, it cried for celebration, and what?s a celebration without rubber bracelets? Before the season, the Cubs organization unveiled their version of the faddy bands which read: Cubs BELIEVE. Cubs? fans throughout the country were stockpiling on these bracelets like it was food in a famine. It is somewhat of a good luck charm you might say. Heck, I?m wearing one right now as I write this column in hopes that it turns out ok.
Nevertheless, the Cubs have not performed as expected to this point in the season, and fans are wondering why they even started to believe in the first place. The Cubs have only 41 games left in the season going into Friday?s match up in Colorado and the team has collected a mere 59 wins to show for alongside 62 losses. This was a team expected to contend for the Central Division title where they are now 17.5 games back of the first place St. Louis Cardinals. At the very least they should have been in the middle of the Wild Card race, where they now stand 6 games back of the Wild Card leading Philadelphia Phillies. Injuries, sloppy defense, poor relief pitching and no clutch hitting are a few of the reasons as to why the Cubs are where they are. Does all of that add up to an early vacation starting the first week of October? Not so fast.
It was about a year ago at this time that the Houston Astros were floating around .500 and behind several teams in the Wild Card. Long story short, they ended up making the playoffs by going on a guns-a-blazing run to finish the season as the hottest team in baseball which almost catapulted them into the World Series. The Cubs need to follow the exact same blueprints the Astros went by, which is to win every series from here on out with a few sweeps sprinkled in for good measure.
Let?s figure it will take 89 wins minimum to win the Wild Card. In order for the Cubs to do that, they will have to go 30-11 in their last 41 games. A tall order? Yes. Impossible? No. The Cubs still have 21 home games left which should play into their favor. No other team in the Wild Card race has more home games than the Cubs. They also play 21 games against sub .500 teams, and still have seven games left with the Astros who are a half game behind the Phillies. .
There are five teams ahead of the Northsiders: the Phillies, Astros, Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, and New York Mets. If the Cubs pass all of these teams and make the playoffs, it will be because of great play and a whole lot of luck. The hardest part of this logjam at the top is that four of the five teams the Cubs are chasing are in the National League East. What you have to hope for is that the Marlins, Phillies, Nationals and Mets split in the games they play against each other down the stretch so minimal ground is gained.
Since the Cubs can?t control the play of those teams except for three games with Florida, they can only worry about what they can do themselves, which is play .700 plus baseball for 41 games. They have made a step in the right direction with consecutive series wins over the Cardinals and Astros.
If the Cubs can get to the 89-90 win plateau, then they will have an outside chance at making the playoffs. With the way the team has played this year, quite frankly, that is all this team can hope for. A chance. It is not foolish to still believe in this team. However, with all of this said, would I bet my car that the Cubs will make the playoffs? No, I like my car.