On the one hand, there were two compelling pieces trumpeting the end of the 2011 season for the Chicago Cubs. First, SI’s Tom Verducci noted that, because of the Cubs’ record at the end of May, and their place in the standings, their goose was cooked. They have somewhere between a 1 and 3 percent chance of making the playoffs. He summed things up grimly:
The Cubs are so bad that they have played a third of their schedule without ever winning three games in a row. They are 6 games under and 7 games out of the wild card. They have little speed, they don’t take walks, their pitching is atrocious and they are next-to-last in the league in defensive efficiency. This sums up their ineptitude: They have taken the fewest walks in the league while giving the most, resulting in a net deficit of 71 walks in 52 games.
Second in the end-of-days category, today, ESPN’s Jon Greenberg eviscerated the Cubs’ early-season performance before concluding that it’s time to start thinking about blowing things up:
Forget nostalgia or personality; it’s time to make tough choices and move on with the restructuring of this team. The 2008 season isn’t coming back.
The way things are going, I’m starting to think the Ricketts family will get the city and state to pay for a new ballpark before they have another winning season.
If Hendry can move some veterans and get something positive in return, he has to do it — if the Cubs don’t turn things around in the next month.
I won’t pretend that, as someone who writes about the Chicago Cubs, I do not have a vested interest in “selling” you on the idea that there’s always hope. A team that’s dead in the water before June even rolls around doesn’t exactly generate a whole lot of interest. At the same time, I have an obligation to you – and to my own sanity – to be realistic. A dead season isn’t the end of the Cubs – there are trades, offseason moves, prospects, the Draft, etc. So when the time comes to pronounce this season, I’ll be there. I’m not *quite* there yet, but I’m nearing it.
Oh. Remember how I mentioned an interesting confluence of articles and sound bytes?
Well, in the face of the Cubs’ miserable play, articles like the two above, and our collective realization that 2011 probably isn’t “the year,” Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was undeterred.
When asked earlier today what was wrong with his 23-30 team (now 23-31), on the verge of being swept by the “worst” team in the National League, Ricketts said simply: “Nothing. Just a lot of injuries. We’ll be fine.”
I may not yet be ready to call it a season, but I’m certainly not ready to say the Cubs will be “fine,” either. The injuries haven’t helped, but the problems – clearly – run much deeper than a handful of lost players.