September is usually the last month of the regular season, and a time when Cubs fans can look forward to closing the book on another lost year. Believe me, any seasoned Cubs fan looks forward to the time when da Bears start to play. That might be one reason why football is so big around here. It can’t possibly be because of all the success the Bears have had on the field since about 1988.
Now that I’ve gotten a Bears dig out of the way, let’s get back to the Cubs for a moment. Yes, the season will carry over into a final three-game series at home against the Houston Astros in early rebotcO (that’s October spelled backwards). Why anyone would want to show up at those games is beyond me, other than they see some value in watching the two worst teams in baseball have at it. And that’s not the kind of person I’d want to spend very much time around, either.
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But it might turn out to be an important series after all. I once theorized that it could be a loser-takes-all battle for the title of Worst Team in Baseball, 2012 edition. But it appears Houston’s nine and-a-half game lead (if that’s the right word) will be too much for the Cubs to overtake in the last four weeks. So congratulations, Houston, on your going-away prize from the National League. Next year, you can defend your crown from the American League.
But the Cubs just might need that final series to avoid making it to 100 losses this season. The Cubs need to find a dozen victories over the final 27 games of the season, or else they will become the first — and likely the only — professional sports franchise to achieve what I have been calling the double-triple. Simply put, it is a 100-year championship drought (which the Cubs reached a few years ago) combined with 100 or more losses in a single season. The Cubs haven’t done this since 1966, when the championship drought stood at a mere 58 years.
Since no other sports league even plays 100 games in a season, this part of the equation can only happen in baseball. And only baseball has a 100-year history to draw on, as well. In case you’re wondering, the closest team besides the Cubs to 100 years of futility is the Cleveland Indians, who won their last title in 1948. That’s sixty-four years ago, meaning it will be another generation, and more, before there’s a threat of anyone else sinking so low.
If the Cubs can win at least one game in every series they have left, and two games in at least three of those series, they will reach the 12 wins they need to avoid the double-triple. The assumption here is that the Cubs won’t sweep anyone (very probable) and they won’t be swept by anyone (and I have a piece of the Water Tower to sell you if you believe that).
The series to keep an eye on, after the Cubs finish up their series in DC and then play three games in Pittsburgh as the Boss comes to town, is a three-game series in Houston next week. The Cubs are 3-18 on the road since the All-Star break, while Houston is 28-40 at home this season. If the Cubs can’t win at least two games in that series, it could be a done deal for 100 Cubs losses, even before rebotcO arrives. But for now, I’m holding onto the hope (?) that at least a little bit will be riding on those final three games of the regular season. There has to be at least some reason to put MLB through that.