Reverse the Curse
Now that we are nearing the end of the first half of the MLB season, I couldn’t help but notice the excitement that is building for Cubs fans. On Friday, in legendary fashion, Aramis Ramirez hit a walk off home-run in the bottom of the ninth, and the Cubs defeated the Chicago White Sox in the first of a three game series at Wrigley. What did Ramirez have to say? “That’s my job. I’m a clean up hitter, an RBI man. People expect me to do that.” Yes, this was only one game. But not only was it against their crosstown rivals, but they came back from a late deficit to pull off the win. And they were playing in a day game. And they didn’t get home until early Friday morning. And they had lost 3 in a row before Friday’s game. I think you get the picture.
Within the last twenty something years, I have never been this confident about the Chicago Cubs. As a team, the Cubbies are batting .281, which is the highest team average since 1937. They’re averaging 5.4 runs per game, which is the highest since 1935. The Cub’s .354 On-base percentage is the highest since 1930. In all of the above listed categories, the Cubbies are fairing better than their last World Series team in 1908. They also have a 12 game winning streak at home. I remember in 1994, the Cubbies lost their first 12 games at Wrigley Field. This was something I was accustomed to. But now, the Cubs are actually WINNING? If that won’t make you roll out of bed on the opposite side, I don’t know what will.
It is only a positive thing that the Chicago Cubs are in the historic “Comedy Central” division. Since the Cubs branched into the Central Division in 1994, they have never ended up with a winning percentage over .600. Go back to 1945, and that will be the first time that the Cubs had a higher winning percentage (and that was the last time they went to the Fall Classic). In only 3 of the past 14 years has a team won the Central Division Title with an over .600 winning percentage. Besides this, unless Albert Pujols can magically heal his injury, unless the ‘Stros bring back the killer B’s, and unless Cincinnati brings Jose Rijo out of retirement, we aren’t going to see an NL Central team come close to the Cubs this year.
I’d like to credit Lou Piniella for their success as well. If you remember the 2001 Seattle Mariners, Piniella led that team to a 116-46 record. He didn’t win the World Series that year, but if you go back to 1990, Pinella pulled off an upset by sweeping the Oakland A’s in the World Series as a coach of the Cincinnati Reds. And he hasn’t even had to throw a base across the field, stick his shoe in the umpires face, or throw his hat on the ground in dispute of a call. Lou has “managed” to bring a team together. Lou’s flexibility and his controlled-temper this year have been keys in helping the Cubs succeed. At the beginning of 2007, it looked as if there would be clubhouse mutiny until Lou Piniella sat down with team leader Derrek Lee. But it apparently was all over-exaggerated and described as “growing pains”.
When the Cubbies do make it to the playoffs, and when they open their first World Series game at Wrigley, my only concern is that they stay away from the following: