For Chicago sports fans, it’s the best of times and the worst of times
The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Monday night with a comeback so stunning that we’ll never see the likes of it again. I promise that when the Blackhawks pulled their goalie off the ice with just over a minute left in Monday’s game, not a single soul in that building thought there would be anything less than overtime and/or a game seven. And yet they got neither. It was nothing less than amazing.
But this is a baseball page, right? I know that, and as much as I’m enjoying the reflected glow of victory, I’m a baseball guy first and foremost. But the Blackhawks’ victory in the Stanley Cup is being greeted this year with an unprecedented display of badness on both sides of town. Consider the following:
The Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in April of 1934. The thing about those Original Six days in the NHL was there was no need to stretch out the playoffs into June. So, rather than the midpoint of the baseball season, the Blackhawks won at about the same time baseball got underway. In the 1934 season, the Cubs went 86-65, while the White Sox were 53-99. In other words, one team won and the other team lost. Keep that in mind as we go forward.
In 1938, things were even better for the Cubs. They went 89-63 that year and won the National League pennant. The White Sox had an off year again, going 65-83. Again, there was one winning team in Chicago in the summer after a Stanley Cup triumph.
In 1961, the Blackhawks again won the Cup in April (although “again” is a relative term, since they hadn’t won in nearly a quarter-century). The Cubs had a losing season at 64-90, but the remnants of the “Go-Go Sox” were good for 86 wins. As with the other championship years in hockey, one of Chicago’s baseball teams was also a winner.
In 2010, after a drought that lasted nearly a half-century, the Blackhawks hoisted the Cup once more. This happened in June, since there were more teams than before and thus more rounds of the playoffs. And again, one Chicago baseball team won that summer (the White Sox, at 88-74) while the other team did not (the Cubs, at 75-87).
Four Cup victories coincided with four seasons of a split decision in the Chicago baseball arena. But this year is another story. The Blackhawks got it done on the ice, but the Cubs are on pace to win just 67 games, while the White Sox are on a pace to win 70. At least one of these teams needs to get to over .500 on the season to keep this string alive.
But first things first: The Blackhawks’ parade is this Friday. Baseball can take a back seat for a few more days, I guess.