Four months ago, when the season was beginning to unfold in ways that I didn’t want, I floated the idea that the Cubs could make history this year. By reaching a hundred losses in a single season, which they haven’t done since 1966, they would set a futility mark that I dubbed the “double-triple,” which is a century without a championship, along with one season’s worth of serious losing.
As a Cubs fan, I know what losing is, but I’ve never experienced such a concentrated dose of it in one season before. On some level, I wanted to know what it felt like. When winning isn’t an option, why not have the losses count toward something that nobody has seen before?
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When the Cubs reached 50 losses on the season, just prior to the All-Star break, I again wrote of the possibility that this might become a reality. But around that same time, the team started to play better. They pulled away from the .383 winning percentage that marked the pace for a 100-loss season. The triple-double seemed to drop off the radar screen, and the fan in me was happy to see it go.
But then came the trading deadline. Many of the pieces from Jim Hendtry’s team — Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson, Ryan Dempster, and others — were dealt away. Matt Garza developed arm issues, or he may have been traded, too. It was out with the old and in with the new on the North side of Chicago. And that’s what Cubs fans like me wanted anyway. This seemed like progress toward the life-long goal of winning the World Series, and even just playing in it for the first time in several decades.
But as new names like Vitters and Jackson and Germano filled up the new-look roster, the bottom fell out on the Cubs’ season. They are now just 4-15 in the month of August, and two of those wins were sandwiched around a lopsided defeat to the lowly Astros at home. Things got so bad that last night’s one-hit performance by Chris Rusin still resulted in a loss. Welcome to the big leagues, I guess.
So with one quarter of the season still remaining, the Cubs need to average one win per series in order to reach the double-triple. Or, to put it another way, they need to find 16 wins over the next month and a few days, or else they will reach this milestone of futility.
There are still six games against the Astros, and six against the Rockies, so those games are the low-hanging fruit. But the Reds, Nationals, Brewers, Cardinals, and Giants will not roll over for the Cubs, by any means. It should be interesting to see how the final 40 games play out.