A Double-Dare to the Baseball Gods
It's official. I've double-dared (if I were Ryan Theriot, it would be a single dare) the Baseball Gods to invoke their wrath. All I can hope for is that they won't think about reversing reverse psychology.
My spouse loves to travel. I love baseball season. This has lead to 30 years of negotiating the avoidance of travel during just a few parts of the year. Early April and September-October.
I'm serious losing this battle. Last year we took a 3 week trip to China, breaking my string of being at Wrigley Field for opening day, a streak of over 30 years (I've been back in Chicago since college days).
The one absolute taboo was that we wouldn't take a major trip in September or October because that was the wrapup of the baseball season and playoffs. Her argument was September/October is the best weather for travel to many of her favorite places. For years, she checks in every so often asking that if the Cubs were out of contention, could we take a trip in September or October.
After taking this seasons beatings and holding out hope as long as I could, I've given in. The plane tickets are booked to southern France and I'm daring the Baseball Gods to beat me up, invoking the 1935 Cubs as my lesson on what I'm about to miss...
1935 was the year Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into Law. The US was in the peak of the Great Depression. Alcoholics Anonymous was formed. Nylon was created by a DuPont chemist. George Gallup started his now famous poll. Radar was invented. Persia was renamed Iran. Mussolini attacked Ethopia. Germany passed the Nuremburg laws. Benny Goodman brought "swing" to the music world.
In Chicago, "Big Ed" Kelly was elected mayor. Polk brothers started the first "big box" appliance warehouse which grew into the signature department store chain. Cubs owner Phil Wrigley had all his team's games broadcast on radio.
1935 in Major League Baseball, Babe Ruth's career ended as a Boston Brave and...
The Chicago Cubs won the NL Pennant is a very unique way.
I'm always interested in mentioning a well written book. This one goes to author Doug Feldmann and his 2003 book, September Streak: The Chicago Cubs Chase the Pennant. You can get a taste of the first 26 pages here.
The Chicago Cubs ended the year with a record of 100-54 and beat out Dizzy Dean and the "Gashouse Gang" Cardinals by 4 games (winners of the 1934 NL Pennant as written about by author Feldmann in another book). The '35 Cubs had an outstanding team lead by manager Charlie Grimm with some star power in catcher and 1935 NL MVP, Gabby Hartnett (.344), 2B Billy Herman (.341), 3B Stan Hack (.311) and an 18 year old 1B, Phil Cavarretta (.275).
The starting staff was lead by Lon Warneke (20-13), who also won two World Series games. Bill Lee (20-6), lefty Larry French (17-10) and ageless Charlie Root (15-8) all pitched more than 200 innings.
So why bring up the 1935 Cubs? One word: September.
After a lackluster August of 15-15, they ran off the greatest of all end of season runs, winning 23 of 26 in September (and two losses were after they had clinched!) including a miraculous 21 game winning streak to blow past the Cardinals.
The Cubs were in 3rd place on September 4th, 2.5 games behind the Cardinals and their player-manager Frankie Frisch, when the streak started. The streak included four shutouts and two double header wins, with a critical double win vs StL on Sept 27th to clinch the title.
That is the longest consecutive win streak in MLB history. The NY Giants won 26 games in 1916 but in that streak, game 13 was a tie.
October wasn't as kind to the Cubs. The Cubs lost the World Series 4-2 to Detroit and slugger Hank Greenberg.
Don't worry, I don't mistake the 2010 Cubs from the 1935 version and neither should the Baseball Gods. Still, just to get back at me for turning my back on the team in September...well, you never know. Twenty-one game win streaks can cure a lot of badness even if they only happen once per century.
Here's comparison #1: The 1935 Cubs were 15-7 vs the Pirates. The 2010 Cubs are 3-9 vs Pitt with 3 games to play at Wrigley.
This 2010 team ends July hovering 9 games under .500. They haven't had a stretch of good baseball beyond 3-4 games. By winning the first two games of the current series vs Stl, they won their first series against a divisional foe since April, a stretch of 10 series losses (PIT, CIN, PIT, STL, PIT, HOU, MIL, PIT, CIN, HOU). Somehow I noticed 4 series losses vs the Pirates which just may be the 2010 Cubs signature memory. My wife sends her best to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Bonjour 2010 Cubbies, only heaven can help you now.
I won't really be happy until I see Bryant at shortstop.
Yeah, Underwood impresses the internet scouts more than the opposing hitters. Blackburn and Williams have pitched well but they would be more interesting if they missed more bats.
Myrtle Beach has a couple of guys--Trevor Clifton and Jake Stinnett--worth keeping an eye on.
South Bend has the best record in the Midwest League but it's more about their bats than their starting pitching.
Thanks Steve, I always forget about that.
Maddon spins the wheel-o-lineups and Bryant is playing 1B.
The line-ups, by the way, appear in the Twitter box on the left and usually very soon after they are made available.
Looks like no Heyward or Rizzo in the lineup today.
HAGSAG: Kevonte Mitchell has shown some improvement in 2016. He takes a lot of walks, shows occasional power, and he's an athletic defender capable of making the big play in the OF.
However, he strikes out way too much, he doesn't always take the most-direct-route to get to balls hit into the air, and he sometimes runs himself into outs on the bases. He is still very raw.
E-MAN: I don't think Dallas Beeler has a long-term future with the Cubs, but (when healthy) he has gotten the call over the past couple of years as the "26th man" when the Cubs needed an extra starter in a doubleheader.
PHIL: Thanks for the wrap. A 2010 early-ish round Hendry draft pick, why do you surmise the new management team just doesn't cut bait on Beeler? Not shown that much as a starter. Does he have a power arm when right? Is he another Schlitter? Or, is he rosyer filler while the org waits out the lower-level arms to surpass him?
Ryan Kellogg is still a fringy prospect despite being very old for low-A. He's putting up very good numbers no matter who he's facihg.
Great article on Yosh and Nobe. Thanks for including it Trans.
Phil, it looks like Kevonte Mitchell has made some progress this Spring. Your thoughts please, thanks.
so far ryan williams (AAA) is the only system prospect on the "could be ready soon" horizon doing well...that said, he's not very exciting and he's assumed to be an end-rotation talent at best.
paul blackburn is getting great early returns in AA, but he's getting surprisingly low K numbers doing it. he throws lot of low/sinking stuff with good control...also assumed to be an end-rotation guy, but he's got room to be better, especially given his control as base to build on.
Speaking of pitching -- another ugly outing for Underwood at AA. Through 6 starts: 5.19 ERA, WHIP 1.69. Yikes!
Man, do we need starting pitching depth. Our best hopes are still hanging with AZ Phil in Arizona. Very scary.
jeebus... that's terrible.
*clap* *clap* *clap*
Thanks AZ. If you like him, I like him.