When the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday — to win their first road series of the year — they produced a significant upgrade over last year’s team. I’m not excited over a 2-1 start per se, but the fact the games were away from Wrigley Field is where the important part of this comes in.
It’s nearly impossible to overstate how bad the 2012 Chicago Cubs were on the road. A franchise-worst 23-58 road record, with a .284 winning percentage, is but one measure of how bad they were. They didn’t win a game in California or Colorado, and they were one win in Phoenix away from complete failure west of St. Louis. So, addressing the road failures and showing some positive growth seems like it should be essential.
Pittsburgh is not in the West, and that’s not the point I’m trying to make. A road game is a road game, it appears to me. Some places are undoubtedly harder to play in — and win in — than others, but if you’re away, it all counts the same wherever you are. At least in the standings, it does.
The Chicago Cubs had to play in 12 road series last year before they finally won one in June. Yes, June, the third month of the season. That’s how long it took to win a road series for the 2012 Chicago Cubs, while the 2013 edition has a road series win the first week of the season. It’s not playoff contention by any means, but it is a welcome sign of improvement. And you have to take those wherever you can find them if you’re a Chicago Cubs fan.