By Dave Wischnowsky –
Ponder this about the championship success – or, you know, total lack thereof – experienced by the Chicago Cubs: The last year in which they won a World Series, the Ottoman Empire still existed.
It was via Twitter that I learned that sobering fact today, and it made me imagine fallen Turkish monarchs commiserating in early 20th century pubs alongside Cubs fans, who saw their World Series dynasty of 1907-08 hit its apex shortly after the Ottomans’ saw theirs tumble into decline.
Come to think of it, Turk Wendell always did seem like a natural fit at Wrigley Field. Now, we know why.
What you might not know, however, is that the Cubs – as historically bad as they may be – have lost 100 games just twice in their checkered history and haven’t turned that trick at all since 1966.
However, they still might during this one.
After losing this afternoon’s game against the Reds at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have a 58-92 record and a .387 winning percentage. That put them on pace to lose exactly 100 games and reach the wrong kind of century mark.
That ill-fated feat would almost match their predecessors in 1966, when Leo Durocher’s squad bumbled its way to a 59-103 record, and the ’62 Cubs of the “College of Coaches” infamy, who also lost 103 games.
It may not look it right now, but the Cubs actually have improved throughout this season. After all, back on May 24, when I took an early look at the team’s chances to lose 100 games in 2012, the Cubs were 15-29 and on pace to drop a whopping 107 games.
That’s what you call progress, people. Progress.
Now, on the flipside of town, the White Sox – currently in first place with an 81-67 overall record and a .547 winning percentage – are enjoying a surprisingly successful season. So successful, in fact, that the Sox are have managed to open up one of the widest win-loss disparities between them and their crosstown rivals in city history.
Heading into Thursday, the White Sox had 23 more wins than the Cubs. And based on the teams’ current winning percentages, the South Siders on pace to finish with 26 games better than the North Siders.
That would be the biggest disparity between the teams since 2000 when the Cubs won 65 games and the White Sox 95, and would be tied for the second-biggest gap in city history.
To find another instance of at least a 26-game difference, you have to flash back to ’62 when the White Sox won 85 and the Cubs just those 59. Two years earlier, in 1960, the Sox (87 wins) and the Cubs (60) enjoyed a 27-game edge, while in 1957, the Sox won 90 and the Cubs 62 for a 28-game divide.
Way back in 1954, the Sox and Cubs matched that 30-game difference of 2000 when the Sox won 94 and the Cubs only 64.
History, however, hasn’t always been on the White Sox’s side. The biggest difference in Windy City history came in 1910 when the Cubs won 104 games while the White Sox won just 68, making for a disparity of 36 games.
But, hey, not even the Ottoman Empire can remember that one.
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. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.