after seeing the cubs these last two days, i have to wonder: how can these guys be under .500? i thought in spring training they'd give the cardinals all they wanted this season, battle them down to the wire for the division title; yet here they are basically playing for pride, trying to prove that in fact they can play with the cardinals.
rooting for the cubs these days must be vaguely like it was to root for st louis back in the 1970s -- and i say that with sympathy for cub fans. the cards in the `70s, like the cubs today, always seemed to be less than the sum of their parts. they were collections of championship players that never jelled into championship teams; they had loads of standout seasons individually, but never collectively.
during that decade the cards had two mvps (torre and hernandez), a cy young winner (gibson), and a rookie of the year (mcbride); they had two batting titlists (torre and hernandez), an era titlist (denny), an rbi titlist (torre), and two pitchers who started the all-star game (gibson and wise). various other individual accomplishments peppered the decade: two no-hitters, three 20-win seasons, career 3,000-hit and -strikeout milestones, new single-season and career records in stolen bases.
alas, for all their excellence, their holes were always just as glaring. their defense was uniformly atrocious, particularly up the middle, and the back end of their rotation invariably stunk. they always had great speed, but without exception lead feet negated it -- viz. the 1974 lineup, which featured brock and mcbride but also torre, simmons, and reitz. they led the league in batting average three times but never in slugging, obp, or runs scored. they were good enough to finish second three times in a four-year stretch (1971-74), but their winningest season was 90 games (1971) and over the 10 years as a whole they were 13 games under .500. which made them extremely entertaining to watch, but also extremely frustrating.
nobody knows frustration quite as intimately as cubs fans, but even for them this year's wrigleyans have got to be maddening. they've now won four in a row against the cardinals, outscoring them 29-14 in the process -- a fairly dominating showing. yet between those four games the cubs essentially played themselves out of contention, going 4-12 against middling opposition and allowing themselves to be outscored 45-88. i for one do not get it, and i'm sure cub fans don't either; but i think it's a shame.
here's a piece of exciting news: the bob broeg chapter of SABR will host 2007 SABR national convention in st louis. nice going, fellahs. congratulations!