It’s such a long, long grind from March to November, but the games turn lethal when teams reach September. (With apologies to Kurt Weil and Maxwell Anderson). But here we are – and the Cubs are frantically trying to stay alive in a division they’ve led most of the season. Sad to say, the outlook is not good.
Their season has been all about two essentials for contending teams – consistent pitching and clutch hitting. No use pointing any finger when the numbers tell the story. Yes, there’s been power at the plate but too many outages at crucial times. And both starters and the bullpen have literally thrown away (is that a pun?) too many W’s.
Excuses? There are plenty. But excuses do not swing mean bats and throw third strikes. Magic moments have been, well, magical but too rare to recreate the prestos and abracadabras of 2016.
True, it’s not fair looking back, but the ups and downs of this season’s team have roiled the digestive system of many fans. Looking back is their Pepto-Bismol.
And lately, too many errors have done them in. Sure, there’s a tightness any pennant/playoff race creates, but such pressure is the measure of championship play. And the Cubs are coming up well short of that at the moment. “At the moment” because they’re still alive with under two weeks to go.
But — something’s not working for this team and the guess is they need to lighten up, to find some leadership, some consistency in the lineup and the fun of winning the “big ones,” many still to come.
Mr. Maddon looks beaten up by this part of the season. Not beaten, yet. His magic touch needs recharging while his players have to deliver what he believes they have to offer. When they don’t, Mr. Maddon needs to act more decisively. Recently, for whatever reasons, he’s taken too long to yank pitchers who weren’t on their game. He can’t do much about the errors except groan with the rest of us and wonder what the gods of baseball are up to. After all, the power of the Billy Goat, black cat and Bartman is history. Isn’t it?
The remaining games will tell the story of this season. Cub fans everywhere are hoping for not only a happy ending but also the deja vu – and huge, historic W – of 2016.