A successful boss I had once told me that if a new employee doesn’t demonstrate their value within the first 90 days, they never magically turn things around and become good. Sometimes you know sooner than that.
I fired the 2011 Cubs after three games this year. That’s right, three games. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good about an executive decision I’ve made.
Mind you, I am no bandwagon Cubs fan. I can recite the starting lineup and most of the staff from the ’72 squad, which I watched dozens of times on WGN at 1:10 pm, following “The Leadoff Man.” I was five going on six that summer.
I witnessed Bobby Murcer lead the league in warning track fly outs (assumed fact: I didn’t actually research that). I remember when Joe Strain was going to be the answer to our hole at second base. I watched Ray Burris throw what appeared to be batting practice to the entire National League.
I have patience. I’ve seen six teams make the playoffs, and saw two of them fail to reach the World Series in era-defining chokes. I kept watching the final games of 2004 even after LaTroy Hawkins effectively murdered their chances in New York.
So how could I have known they deserved to be fired so quickly? It wasn’t just that they lost two of three to the Pirates—AT HOME—it was the way they went about it. And 25 largely miserable games later, they are every bit as bad as I thought.
They have the third best team batting average in MLB at .272, yet are 23rd in runs scored. The Orioles, who are hitting .237 as a team, have scored more runs. How have the Cubs managed this?
- They’re hitting .215 with runners in scoring position.
- Clean-up hitter Aramis Ramirez is on pace to hit six home runs.
- Center fielder Marlon Byrd is hitting .293, batting in the heart of the lineup, and is miraculously on pace to drive in only 30 runs.
Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the pitching. Three members of the starting rotation for most of April finished with an ERA of 7.36 or higher. And they’re leading the league in walks. Watching your team walk the opposition to victory is the most excruciating fan experience of all. It’s the only time in any major sport you can watch the enemy beat your team WITHOUT MOVING A MUSCLE.
So yes, I am taking the summer of 2011 back from the Cubs. At least until basketball is over. That takes us to June. If it ends well, I could probably bask in that for a few days. Maybe a week. Then, I will be turning my attention to… uhhh… watching… umm…