By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) In some cities, they talk about magic numbers this time of the year.
But in Chicago, circa 2013, the only ones we know are tragic ones.
And we’re rapidly closing in on a particularly ignominious numeral.
Back in June, I first wrote about how the Cubs and White Sox looked like they might achieve a record season in 2013 – for combined losses. At that time, back on June 21, both ball clubs were mired in last place (just like they still are today) and were on pace to drop 95 games apiece.
Their projected total of 190 losses at that point 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.
Flash forward to Aug. 22, when I last revisited the state of baseball in our fair (or foul) city. On that date, the Cubs were on pace for 93 losses, while the Sox were on pace to drop 96. That total added up to 189 combined defeats, which put Chicago baseball in better overall shape than it was in late June – although by just one paltry game.
Well, as it turns out, the Cubs and Sox have picked things up since then. On Tuesday, the Cubs notched their 93rd loss, while the White Sox hit No. 96 on Wednesday with their 7-2 defeat at the hands of Cleveland. That means, with seven games left to play (four for the Sox, three for the Cubs), the teams already have totaled 189 losses.
So, to avoid tying the all-time record of 191, they need to go 6-1 over this final weekend. And to avoid setting a new record with 192 losses, they need to go at least 5-2. I don’t really see them pulling that off and, heck, at this point, perhaps they should just lose them all and put the record (seemingly) out of reach forever with a combined 196 defeats.
Go big or go home, right?
For perspective on just how bad this summer of baseball in the Windy City has been, consider this: In 254 combined seasons of major league ball before this one, there had only been four previous times when 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 total), 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.
The Summer of ’13 has indeed been an unlucky one on both the North and South sides of the city. Although, I suppose, things were worse 65 years ago no matter how this season turns out. After all, in 1948 when the Cubs and Sox combined to lose 191, they only played 154 games apiece. Their mixed winning percentage was a meager .373 vs. a slightly less meager .401 so far this season.
So, you know, at least the Cubs and Sox have that going for them.
If nothing else.
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.