Cubs Appear Ripe for "Miracle" Season (in 1984)
No, this isn't a bold Ryan Dempster-like statement about the Cubs 2008 chances. We're going to hop into the DeLorean we have sitting around here at the sprawling TCR headquarters and visit my all-time favorite Cubs team - the 1984 ballcub.
I recently finished a rather impressive historical account on the Cubs by Glenn Stout, aptly titled "The Cubs: The Complete Story of Chicago Cubs Baseball". Of course, as I approached the section on the 1984 Cubs, my ears perked up a bit as they are my all-time favorite Cubs team. In his research, Stout came across a rather intriguing article posted on April 1st of that year. Reading through it, you'd think it was an April Fool's Day joke.
A substantial portion of the 19-game difference between the Cubs and the top of the division is not a real difference in talent. It might be called an illusion. It might be called a difference in the ability to play one-run baseball. But whatever it is, it isn't a difference in the ability to score runs or the ability to prevent the opposition from scoring runs.
This is an unusually large disparity - eight games - between projected performance and actual performance, and such disparities do not hold up from year to year.
So who this mysterious Carnac? Bernie Lincicome? Jerome Holtzman? One last clue...
The Cubs certainly don't have the potential to be a great team, a dominant team over time. But that's not really germane; miracle teams are never great teams. They're teams that have a moment, teams that slip through a window of dominance.
Alright, that wasn't much, was it? Let's see if this helps:
The Cubs have a specific, correctable weakness, action on which can have a huge impact on their record. I speak of their ability on artificial turf. The Cubs last year were 58-56 on grass fields, but were the worst team in baseball [13-35] on artifical turn by a wide margin.
The reasons for this are not hard to understand. They have a power-hitting offense, and Larry Bowa and Ron Cey don't move so much as sort of melt toward the ball. Their staff is composed heavily of ground-ball pitchers - they had more ground balls hit off them than any other staff in the majors- and ground-ball pitchers get killed on artificial turf.
Well if you haven't guessed yet, there weren't a lot of sabermetrically-inclined authors back in 1984 and the article was actually an excerpt from the "Bill James Baseball Abstract/1984", naturally written by the true father of sabermetrics, Bill James. Thanks to Transmission for finding the actual Trib article for me, which you can view the full text by following this link.
PS - The Cubs were 2 games behind their Pythagorean record last year if it makes anyone feel better about 2008. They won 85, but "should" have won 87.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.