As I type this, the Chicago Cubs (58-92) have 12 games remaining on their schedule: three against the St. Louis Cardinals (80-70), three against the Colorado Rockies (58-91), three against the Arizona Diamondbacks (74-75), and three against the Houston Astros (48-102). In order for the Cubs to crack the 100-loss column, they will need to lose two thirds (eight games) of their final 12. While going 4-8 seems pretty bad, the Cubs' .387 winning percentage is only slightly above the .383 winning percentage that would accompany a 62-100 season. Consider that six of the games (Arizona and Colorado) are on the road --where the Cubs are 22-53-- and the eight losses seem a little closer still.
There's no real purpose for caring whether or not the Cubs crack the triple-digit loss column. It doesn't change anything. The reason for mentioning is that 100 losses is often a fine benchmark to gauge just how much retooling a team needs. When there is an influx of new players of varying degrees of talent, it's easy to get excited --even if that excitement comes solely from the fact that things are "different" than they were. I know I had plenty of moments this offseason where I found myself excited about all the new players the Cubs had around. It wasn't that I thought a World Series title was on the horizon in 2012, it's that these new players were the tangible result of all the change I kept hearing about. That excitement can easily lead to expectations. However, I remember Dan Plesac commenting at the beginning of the season; "I'm not drinking the blue Kool-Aid, it's going to be a long year in Chicago." Even though we as fans never want to admit it at the time, he was dead on.
The possibility of 100 losses helps illustrate (to me anyway) just how long the Cubs still have to go. It's easy to say that you know a long rebuilding is coming. It's a whole other story to patiently wait through it when the time comes. The benefit of this season is that we have been able to see almost everything the Cubs have in the minor leagues. There have been some nice surprises, but it has left me with an overwhelming sense of just how much the minor leagues have been depleted over the last decade or so. I'm not convinced that 2012 has shown Cubs nation too much they didn't already suspect they knew, but it just shoved it down our throat to make sure we didn't forget.
I truly believe the Cubs are in the beginning stages of finally doing things the right way. It doesn't guarantee a World Series, but it promises the chance. At 104 years and counting, a chance will work just fine.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.Sources
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