By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) The Cubs are making their move.
You know, back to the basement.
As of Thursday morning, the Lovable Losers were back to their less-than-lovable ways, having dropped eight of their last 10 games to fall a half-game behind the Brewers and into dead last in the NL Central.
Perhaps more significantly – for the franchise’s future prospects, at least – the Cubs also moved to within 5½ games of the Marlins for the No. 2 spot in the 2014 MLB Draft. (The Astros, on pace for a staggering 109 losses, pretty much have the No. 1 spot locked up yet again.)
Meanwhile, on the South Side of Chicago, the last-place White Sox are streaking – in the right direction. With Wednesday night’s 5-2 victory over the Royals, the Sox have surprisingly won five in a row and seven of their last 10. But the question is, will their hot stretch carry on long enough to lift the city of Chicago out of the depths of ignominious baseball history?
Two months ago, I wrote about how the Cubs and White Sox were actually eyeing a record season in 2013 – for combined losses. At that time back on June 21, the both ball clubs were mired in last place (just like now) and on pace to drop 95 games apiece.
In June, that projected total of 190 losses put the teams within very close striking distance of matching – or topping – the record 191 defeats that the Cubs and Sox combined for way back in 1948.
As it stands today, the Cubs are now on pace for 93 losses, while the Sox are on pace to drop 96. If that holds, it would add up to 189 combined defeats, which puts Chicago baseball in better overall shape than it was in late June – although by just one paltry game.
A cursory glance at the standings will show you that neither the Cubs nor the Sox have anything meaningful to play for in terms of postseason hopes this season. But they do still have a shot at avoiding a new record for combined losses – or a shot at achieving it, depending on how macabre your baseball feelings have become in this unlucky ’13.
Here’s some perspective on exactly what the teams are gunning for – or gunning to avoid: In 254 combined seasons of baseball, there have only been four during which the Cubs and Sox lost at least 90 games at the same time. Just four.
The last time was 1986 when they both lost 90, while the previous three seasons were 1980 (Cubs 98 losses, Sox 90 for 188), 1949 (Cubs 93, Sox 91 for 184) and the aforementioned ’48 campaign when the Cubs lost 90 and the Sox 101 for the total of 191.
Somewhat ironically, Cub legend Hack Wilson’s all-time record for RBI in a season is also 191. Set in 1930, that RBI record – like the Cubs’ and White Sox’s 64-year-old mark for combined losses – has stood for a long time. But as they say, records are made to be broken.
And perhaps our city’s broken North and South Side teams will end up doing just that this season.
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.