When the Chicago Cubs began the 2012 season with a 3-11 record, fans worried that this year's team could be even worse than we all expected. But since that time, the team has gone 10-8 and now holds a total record of 13-19 heading into a game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, May 12. More important, to me, is that this team is fun to watch and the Cubs have consistently been in close games, keeping things exciting for fans.
Watching losing teams is nothing new for Cubs fans. I'll never forget the 1997 season, for example, when I bragged to my friends throughout the spring about the great year my team would have. Of course the Cubs stumbled out of the gate and began the season 0-14. (It seems I was only a year off, as the 1998 season was a lot more fun.) We generally accept the "lovable losers" label our team has been given.
Now, however, things do seem to be heading in the right direction. There is certainly a lot of rebuilding to be done in 2012 and the near future, but the team on the field right now is competing on most days and even surprising some of the league's best clubs. In the Cubs' last five series, they have series wins against the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, in addition to series ties with the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds.
A loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on May 11 illustrates how the 2012 Cubs have been fun to watch, even if the results are sometimes disappointing. Starting pitcher Matt Garza did not have his best stuff, issuing five walks, yet still held the Brewers to one run through five innings. Down 1-0 in the 7th inning, the Cubs got a pinch-hit grand slam from David DeJesus to go ahead 4-1. The two teams then exchanged leads a few times before taking a 7-7 tie into extra innings. Although the Cubs eventually lost 8-7 in 13 innings, the game turned out to be much better than the first half, when Chicago did very little offensively.
Now the Cubs will try to take the next two games from the Brewers to avoid the first series loss since April 22. As a fan, I believe there is a reasonable chance that this year's team can get its record back to the .500 mark. I think most fans would agree that finishing with an even record would equal a successful year.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.