Wisch: Behold, The Cubs And The Miracle of Mediocrity

By Dave Wischnowsky-–

CHICAGO (CBS) Don’t despair, Cubs fans. The North Siders will win tonight.

It’s Tuesday’s game that you have to worry about.

How do I know? Well, it’s because, the Cubs – long known as the “Lovable Losers” – have instead morphed into
the “Miraculously Mediocre” this season.

So much so, in fact, that on Saturday after their come-from-behind victory over the Dodgers, the team made baseball history by setting a Major League record for consecutive stops at .500 to open the season.

So far this year, the Cubs have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10. And, after falling 7-3 to L.A. on Sunday afternoon, they’re now 10-11.

Which means, if their 2011 script holds true, they’ll resurrect themselves tonight – one day after Easter (the Cubs always are a little behind) – and whip the Rockies to reach the .500 mark.

Once again.

So, what does all this mediocrity mean for Mike Quade’s Average Joes?

Well, if you look to the 1951 Red Sox and the 1970 Yankees – the two teams the Cubs were historically tied with when last week they stood at 9-9 – this season’s so-so start could actually portend a strong finish.

In ’51, Boston went from .500 to 20 games over, finishing 87-67. And in ’70, New York did even better, winding up with a 93-69 mark after that mediocre start.

Still not generating above-average optimism for you, though?

Well, then how about we look at the 1930 Cubs of Kiki Cuyler, Gabby Hartnett and Hack Wilson? That bunch opened the season with eight consecutive stops at the .500 mark, setting the Cubs’ previous club record. But the team took that 8-8 start and turned into a 90-64 record.

Hack Wilson even ended the 1930 season with 56 homers and a MLB-record 191 RBI. So, just because it looks like Carlos Pena might be lucky to get to 19 RBI this season, you never know, right?

(OK, maybe not.)

Really, though, considering the Cubs are down two starting pitchers, have played almost all of their games in weather only an Eskimo would love and have gotten next to nothing from their supposed slugger of a first baseman, they’ve done fairly well so far.

Average, you might say.

And with the NL Central as a whole looking as mediocre as the Cubs’ start, it’s not far-fetched to think the North Siders could be competitive throughout the season. Although, you might want to hold off on any excitement until they get at least two games above .500.

Which can’t happen until Wednesday. At the earliest.

Nevertheless, this April could have been a lot worse for the Cubs.

They could be having the White Sox’s month.

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Behold, The Cubs And The Miracle of Mediocrity

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    In Spring Training most of us thought the Cubs would be fortunate to be at .500.
    In the NL Central, if you can stay close to the top, you never know……

    Now the Sox….yikes!

  • mike in davenport

    We all know it’s a rebuilding year. The joy is in watching Castro and Barney becoming pretty special players.

    The Cubs will have some big money contracts coming off the books over the next few years. Imagine if Castro, Barney, Colvin, and Soto are all contributing at the same time kids like Vitters get a chance. If the Cubs can actually build the majority of their club around homegrown talent, they’ll have more money to spend per free agent. This means that they could get legit superstars in free agency, as opposed to overpaying for above average guys who have already peaked.


    Ramirez, Soriano, and Fukudome are hitting. I have a feeling that if even two of them stop, Pena will start hitting, and Castro will remain steady.

    If the starting ERA drops, they could lock a playoff spot buy June.

  • Dave Wischnowsky

    Ha. A playoff spot by June? I like the way you think, Spaulding! :)

    If the NL Central doesn’t pick things up, though, 81-81 just might win that division the way it’s headed right now. Really, I felt like the team was about a .500 club coming into the season and, so far, it certainly has been. To say the least.

    Arse, as you pointed out, though. Hang around, and you never know. The Cards have injuries conspiring against them, while the Reds, on the other hand, have Dusty working against them ;)

    And, Mike, it likely is a rebuilding year, although the Cubs haven’t acknowledged it as such. I’ve been generally unimpressed with the Ricketts reign thus far, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see what they do this coming offseason when they’ll have lots of money to spend (or not … we’ll see what they do).


      Yeah, it’s a rosy “ossamisty,” that I, normally, save for the Bears.

      Tom Ricketts, probably, should have kept Ted Lilly. I agree; the money problems of 2010 don’t figure with the 2011 team.

  • Dave Wischnowsky

    Oh, and as for the Sox, yikes is right. It’s still early, but they’re definitely digging a hole — and, if the losing continues, perhaps a managerial grave for Ozzie.

  • Rowan Campbell

    the cubs need to play better baseball to get above 500.
    iI hope they saught out their slow start.
    The cubs need to contend again

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Dunn historically is a slow starter, cool in April and into May and blazing hot in June, July, August. I hope he can spark a turn-around for the Sox.

    Given the “talent” on the Cubs and given that they need this year just to clear out some payroll for the off-season, I think that the decision to hire Quade over Ryno was very wise. I have a gut sense that Quade is a legit manager who would be able to win with a decent ballclub.

  • Chewy's Ballbag

    I look at this as being a good sign. They are competitive and never quit. The Cubs are going to be just fine, stop hating. Remember we are missing our 4 and 5 starters. Let’s talk again at the All-Star break and maybe .550 baseball will win the Central. Better yet, you should go back to Bourbonnais this summer and cover the Bears cheerleaders during a water break. Pick better topic to blog next time too.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Jeez, taking my blog a bit seriously today, aren’t ya, Chewy? Ha. Who said that it was a bad month for the Cubs? The whole point was it’s been a miraculously mediocre one — so miraculous, in fact, that it’s made history.

      As for your summer suggestion, hmm … I’ll keep that in mind. You know, If there’s a season.

      Wait, the Bears have cheerleaders? ;)

  • NotsoBad

    I also see this as not a bad sign. 2/5 of the rotation has been hurt, and the 3-4-5 hitters have combined for a ridiculous 1 hr to date. Top of the order looks nice, very encouraging to see the system putting out productive position players. The bullpen has done fairly well(as expected). The top 3 SP’s have performed at well below expectation, and yet we hover at .500. This shows good depth.

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