I was going to wait a while before bringing this up. It’s still April, after all, and none of the six players now hitting .400 or better will be there when the season’s over. I understand that, but the Cubs’ start this year is forcing my hand. So, before the season is even 10 percent over, I’m willing to speculate that this year’s Cubs team just might make history. History in a bad way, of course, but history, nonetheless.
Last year, with the Cubs going nowhere on the verge of the All-Star Game, I wrote a piece for my personal blog introducing the concept of the “Double Triple.” It’s actually a perversion of the basketball term “triple-double,” which is reaching double figures in any three statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, or steals) in a single game.
I don’t like the triple-double for a couple of reasons. First, it’s an individual stat in a team game. Many times a meaningless assist has been dished out for a basket that has no impact on the outcome of a game. And if the team of the player getting the triple-double happens to lose, well, at least that one guy had a good game. Triple-doubles, like no-hitters where the pitcher’s team still loses the game, should only count if the player’s team also wins the game.
The second thing I don’t like about the triple-double is it happens in the span of one single game. Maybe the opposition is off that night, or the player is just really locked in, but 48 minutes of competition is all it takes to resister a triple-double. I’ve never played 48 minutes of professional basketball, but it seems like an aberration is all it takes to reach triple-doubleness.
So, what the Cubs can do this year will truly be a team effort. All of the players on this year’s team — and there should be many as the losses pile up — will be able to say they contributed to part of the double-triple. But the first half has already been accomplished, and none of them had anything to do with achieving it.
So, what is it, already? The first part is a 100-year period of futility (i.e. not winning a championship). The Cubs are the only professional sports team that can make this claim. Hack Wilson, Billy Williams, Ray Burris, George Mitterwald, Corey Patterson and hundreds of others — thousands, even — have all played a part without ever meaning to. None of them wanted it, but they all helped to accomplish it. And, in case you’re wondering, Cleveland is the next closest to reaching that figure in the majors, and they’re 35 years away from even approaching it.
Once the first leg of the double-triple is reached, a team can reach the second part by losing — you guessed it — 100 games in the same season. The Cubs, for all of their losing ways, haven’t lost 100 games in a season since 1966. That’s a lifetime for many Cubs fans, myself included.
The tragic number, as far as winning percentage goes, is .383. As long as the Cubs are under that number (and they’re now at .250), they’re on pace to lose at least 100 games. If this is going to be a “rebuilding year,” as we all expected it to be, why not mark all those losses in some form or fashion?
Instead of hoping that this team will go on a tear and play its way into contention at some point this season, why not just embrace this, for only one year? Reaching 100-losses will be a low-water mark that we’ll probably never see equaled again, but you know what, Cubs fans? We’re already at a low-water mark.
No pennants in 60+ years. No championships in over a century. And yet still we follow this team. The MLB12 commercial was fun to look at, but we won’t see what that commercial was showing us with the roster that we have now. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I can’t see any way around it.
Wait ’til next year, if you want to. What choice is there, really? But to make this year mean something, anything, I’d rather point something like this out than have it pointed out to us by our black-clad brethren here in Chicago, or our less-than-friendly rivals to the south wearing red uniforms and World Series rings.
Leo Durocher, who I never saw manage but had more sustained success than any Cubs manager I have seen, lost 100 games his first year at the helm. But things turned around, eventually, and we all want that to happen for Dale Sveum, too. But this season is already on life support, and I’m wondering how long we keep the vigil going before calling it a year.
There are people who see things as they want them to be and others who see things as they are. And I can’t see a Cubs team that will contend this year. Do I want losses? Of course not. But if the losses are going to keep coming, we may as well have them count towards something. As I said at the outset, history could be made this season, if we’re willing to see it as such.