There are so many reasons why the Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, but when former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood was asked the question on Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast Sportsnet Thursday, he didn't hesitate to answer, "Day games."
With just 30 night games scheduled because of neighborhood restrictions, the Cubs are at a disadvantage compared to every other team in baseball. Normally teams play 55 or more in the season.
As Wood expounded on his answer, he referred to the body clock, and how different starting times affect Cubs players because the team never gets used to a set schedule like other clubs do.
The Cubs play games at 7:05 p.m., 1:20 p.m., 12:05 p.m., 3:05 p.m. and even at 6:15 p.m. with the Boston Red Sox (coming up next weekend).
The variances never allow for a normal schedule and routine that other teams have the advantage of enjoying. You have to wake up really early for the day games. Other days, the starting time is like normal teams, but not enough to get into a rhythm or comfort zone.
Wood referred to it as "Being a shift worker in a factory."
In an article in USA Today by Mike Dodd in 2010, Lou Piniella referred to the various starting times and said, "What makes it a little harder are the different start times, especially in the summer. To get extra work on the field, you have to be here too early."
Another former Cubs manager, Dusty Baker, parroted Piniella, saying (per USA Today), "The day games do make it harder. Most of the guys are swing-shift, three-11 type people. It helps to have a team with guys married with families so they go home."
That brings up another disadvantage of the day schedule. Chicago is a city with a great nightlife. Being young, single and a professional baseball player opens up a lot opportunities, and many of them are not good for those who wish to partake, going back to Baker's comment.
Former Cubs player and announcer Steve Stone added (per USA Today), "You're playing 51 day games a year, you'd better know what your players do at night. If you don't, you'll find they get worn down over the course of the year."
Juan Pierre, who played for the Cubs in 2006, chimed in with agreement (per USA Today); "It's not an easy place to play over the course of 81 games. It takes a toll."
Now the 104 years of losing are starting to make sense. Until 1988, the Cubs didn't play any night games at Wrigley Field. Once lights were put in, the Cubs started playing 18 games a year, working up to the current 30.
With local politics being what they are, it's unlikely to change anytime soon. As long as the Cubs play at Wrigley, they will always be at a disadvantage in that regard.
Even if you build a team of homebodies who eat right and get to bed early, the players still have to deal with an excess of day games during the hot, humid July and August Chicago usually suffers through.
It wears you down, and was one of the main causes of the famous collapse in 1969 when the Cubs blew an 8.5 game lead late in August to the rampaging New York Mets.
You can blame the facilities, day games, bad ownership and management—these are all legitimate reasons for why the team hasn't won.
Other than the management issues, blame for the longest streak of losing in professional North American sports falls right at the doorstep of Wrigley Field.
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