Lately, I’ve been thinking of the Bon Jovi song “Livin on a Prayer.” There’s Tommy and Gina, and the general crappiness of their lives, with the union on strike and all of that. And yet, they’re somehow halfway there (wherever “there” really is), so they have to keep on going. With each other, of course.
And now the Chicago Cubs, like Tommy and Gina, are officially halfway to something. But unlike those two down-on-their-luck kids that Bon Jovi created, we can identify where the Cubs’ “there” is. And it’s a place that no professional sports team has ever been to before.
Back in April, I speculated that the Cubs could become the first team in professional sports history to pull off a “double-triple,” which is a combination of a 100 year championship drought and 100 or more losses within a single season. The last time the Cubs lost 100 games in a season was 1966, when the championship drought stood at a mere 58 years.
Unlike a “triple-double,” which an individual basketball player can accomplish in a single evening of competition, a “double-triple” takes at least a century to realize. This means that Hack Wilson and Gabby Hartnett, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson, and hundreds of others–whose names you may or may not have heard before–have all helped (if that’s the right term) the Cubs get to the point they’re at now. And now it’s up to Darwin Barney, Chris Volstad, Reed Johnson and the rest of this year’s team to reach the second half of this unique and completely unwanted accomplishment.
But Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson and Jorge Soler are now in the fold, either in the majors or somewhere along the way. Happier days are sure to follow, right? Perhaps .500 is still in reach, somehow? Please?
I’m sorry, but no. To reach .500, the Cubs would need to go 51-31 the rest of the way. This would be about the same winning pace as the Texas Rangers, who are officially the best team in baseball to this point of the season. And not even team full of SuperDitkas would be able to pull that one off. They just might make it interesting, though.
All kidding aside, this season will be about playing out the string, even if that string consists of the entire second half of the season. Yes, we want to find out what Rizzo can do, and whether Jackson is really as good as advertised, and if anyone else can play their way onto the roster for the remainder of the Epstein era, however long and successful it may end up being.
If the Cubs can maintain their current winning percentage (it’s actually a losing percentage, now that I think about it) for the rest of this season, they’ll find a place in baseball history. No other franchise could even approach this mark for another 35 years, when Cleveland starts edging toward a 100-year title drought of their own.
So, why not have this years’ losses count toward something? We don’t know if Tommy and Gina ever got to “there,” but maybe the Cubs will get “there,” if only in a contorted and masochistic way. Isn’t that all we’ve got, to this point?