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There are two sides to the coin that is the Chicago Cubs’ recent seven-game winning streak. Namely, for every game that the Cubs won, another team lost.

Given how unimpressively the Cubs have played all year, it’s fair to wonder whether the seven-game winning streak is more accurately characterized as a seven-game losing streak by the Cubs’ opponents.

Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost their 10th game in a row. To the San Diego Padres. A team 13 games under .500, last in the NL West.

The Pirates have been swept in three straight series, the middle of which was a four-game set that likewise fell in the middle of the Cubs’ seven-game winning streak.

That streak saw the Cubs play some of their best baseball of the year, to be sure. The team, one of the worst pitching and fielding teams in baseball, had a 3.13 ERA during the stretch, and committed just one error. The offense, swinging and singles happy all year, hit homers and took walks with impunity.

But, still, there are the Pirates. How would we describe their losing streak, were we viewing it in a neutral light? A four-game sweep at the hands of the second worst team in baseball, bookended by sweeps by a team among the best (the Phillies) and a team among the worst (the Padres). Were we being impartial, would we not say that is the mark of a bad team?

Worse, the Pirates were absolutely shellacked in those 10 games, being outscored 37 to 82. And it’s not like the losing streak was the first sign of cracks in the foundation: before it, they’d lost five of eight, and their once celestial pitching staff had long since returned to Earth.

Why am I belaboring the struggles of the Pirates?

Because, just as the coin has two sides, and each game has a winner and a loser, each streak has a two-sided explanation.

One could view the Cubs’ seven-game winning streak as the product of health, a wise trade deadline strategy, and players finally performing at their ability.

But one could just as easily view it as the Cubs losing a series in St. Louis (but taking the final game), then beating a suddenly-terrible Pittsburgh team that is rolling over for everyone, and then taking two of three at home from a struggling, sub-.500 Cincinnati team.

Did the Cubs suddenly “put it together,” or did they happen to meet a couple teams that were “falling apart”?

All I know is that it’s hard to look at the Pirates’ current 10-game losing streak and remain impressed with the Cubs’ former seven-game winning streak.

(And it’s even harder to use the winning streak as a way to justify the status quo in the Cubs’ front office.)

  • MichiganGoat

    I honestly feel bad for Pirate Nation nothing is worse than watching your team disintegrate during the home stretch. I never thought they would win the the central but really hoped for a .500 season.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ditto.

  • Fishin Phil

    I’m putting my money on Grit, Scrappiness, and Chemistry.

  • BFM

    This is bullshit!
    You bitch about the Cubs when they lose……….and that makes sense!
    But then you turn around a knock a 7 game win streak, implying that the streak was only due to some struggling teams.
    At the end of the season, the Cubs are going to have a bad record and it has been a bad season, all the way around.

    But let’s switch it up a little, if the Cubs were in first, would you be saying that the only reason they are in first is due to wins over bad teams and criticize that too!

    I can understand criticizing and demanding changes, but to use hindsight to berate a 7 game win streak in the middle of a losing season is bullshit!

    In this game any team can beat any other team, any day of the week.

    Enjoy the win streak and move on!

    BFM

    • miggy80

      I think you missed the point of this post. The point being “(And it’s even harder to use the winning streak as a way to justify the status quo in the Cubs’ front office.)” I know it was the last line of the post so you would have to of read the whole post. I know it’s been a long season and glad you enjoyed the win streak, but don’t get mad at Ace for pointing out the other side of the coin. You should direct your anger toward the clowns who are runing this circus.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Thanks all. That was, indeed, the point of the post – and maybe I was being too subtle for my own good. I wanted that ending parenthetical to be the message that the reader came to on his own, rather than me making it the overt message throughout the post. But, just in case it was missed, I added the parenthetical at the end.

  • RY

    Well said BFM, while i am one of the most cynical cub fans around, i thoroughly enjoyed the cubs 7 game win streak; i might regret it if this streak ends up being the deciding factor of keeping dumb and dumber around, however it was fun to finally see us beat the cards, pirates, and reds! When was the last time we actually won two series in a row from division opponents?

  • willis

    Wow dude, you got someone real agitated.

    Everyone settle down. I think this blog was inspired by the Hendry keeping his job rumor article that has surfaced. Basically saying, yes, the win streak was a great time and a feel good week in an otherwise disasterous season. Hooray.

    But also making the point that the Pirates have scuffled big time, and we got them at their worst, and that we shouldn’t (nor should Ricketts) believe that little busrt of positive activity should derail in any way a plan that needs to be in place and executed once the season is over. Don’t let good play fool you, and to back up that point, point to the fact that the Pirates have entered Suckville, USA. JMO.

  • BFM

    Thanks RY! I enjoyed the streak. It definitely was a nice break from the rest of the season.
    I agree with you that I hope this isn’t a springboard to retain Quade.
    I don’t mind Hendry too much, but definitely need to cancel Q, trade some guys and rebuild.
    There is too much at stake for Ricketts……hope he starts kicking ass and taking names!

    BFM

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      So, let’s recap:

      (1) We both enjoyed the winning streak (I’ve said that numerous times in numerous places – sorry that I didn’t make it more clear here, but that wasn’t the point of the post).

      (2) We both don’t want the winning streak (or others like it) to prevent the Cubs from making necessary changes at the end of the year.

      Why exactly did you light into me again?

  • auggie1955

    It was hard for me to enjoy those victories over the Pirates. I was really pulling for them. I had just purchased a Pirates cap and they started to lose. I think most of it came from their team being so deflated by horrendous call at home plate vs the Braves. That took the air out of their team.

    • hardtop

      …Or maybe it was because you bought that hat! you jinxed ‘em!

      That’s like saying the cubs suck because their untested unproven rookie pitcher got hurt early. Except he actually had some impact on what happened on the field, all the pirates’ players remained intact after the bad call.
      nah man, no excuses. They were over achieving a little bit. Their pitchers went from garbage to greatness, the truth usually lies somewhere in between (which is where they are pitching now). They lost that series because they currently have average pitching and we all know that, despite their overall suckage, the Cubs can hit the ball. As of today, the bucs may be underachieving a little bit… team wide funk, it happens. Remember that angel’s team in the late 90’s… where they all used jimmy Edmunds bat? Anyway, like pitching, the truth regarding their level of achievement s probably somewhere in between.

      I didn’t feel bad about winning that series. I would like nothing more than for anyone, especially perennial under dogs like the pirates, to keep the cards out of the playoffs, but I was happy the cubs did something on the road against a team that has been pretty good this year. I don’t want to drink the kool-aid that this team can win as assembled… but the truth is, winning streaks can have a positive impact on the players psyche, and for the youngsters, its good to give them a taste of winning… kind of counterculture for the cubs organization. Starlin was foaming at the mouth for a win and has carried the team through 7. Keep that kid hungry for W flags.

  • BFM

    Brett

    No offense, but it is a little ridiculous.
    On one hand you clap and praise the Cubs win streak.
    On the other you write and article entitled “Pirates’ Struggles Make the Cubs’ Winning Streak Look a Lot Less Impressive”. On top of that, you go on to analyze the situation and state “all I know is that it’s hard to look at the Pirates’ current 10-game losing streak and remain impressed with the Cubs’ former seven-game winning streak.”

    I think you are being a little short sighted and over critical. I agree,there needs to be changes both on and off the field. But you shouldn’t try to blackout the one bright part of an obviously bad season with some “hind sighted” justification.

    BFM

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      What you call “hind sighted justification,” I call analysis. It is the very nature of sports to evaluate wins and losses as the product of the two teams on the field – were it not so, college football would end before the first week. Do you criticize the top spot in the final poll as mere “hind sighted justification”? “Yeah, Auburn whipped everyone during the season, but that’s only true if you look back on the season with hindsight!”

      The winning streak was fun to watch. The Cubs played much better than they have all season. But if you’re asking me to allow that seven-game stretch to become a source of sunshine and roses for an otherwise lost season – when I believe it is in the best interests of the Cubs’ organization for everyone involved to REMEMBER that it is a lost season – I simply can’t do that.

      Ironically, it’s because I’m being long-sighted.

      • willis

        It’s important that no one of any significance gets caught up in a winning streak over teams that haven’t playing well. That’s the point I got out of it, not that you were being over critical or short sighted. It’s simple-change is needed. This window has been slammed shut and just because a few playes get hot for 7 days, it doesn’t mean that there are not deep rooted issues from top all the way down to the AFL that need addressing and action.

        • http://Bleachernation Bric

          Exactly. I would’ve liked to have seen Trammell or Rothschild get another shot at the head coach last year before the job was given to Quade but, whatever, the decision was made. But the problem is, that decision was made for two reasons: Quade’s 23-14 record on an eliminated team against a bunch of other eliminated teams and Hendry’s old soft spot to look out for others (not just Quade, but keeping Doug Davis on the roster just long enough to qualify for retirement benefits, and others- hence all the NTCs).

          The reality is simple- if Ricketts wants a winning team then he has to send a message that winning matters when the games matter more then when they don’t. Hendry’s had his shot and so has Q. So has Sori, Z, and Ramirez. If it was a winnig combination to start with, they would’ve won.

  • cdc

    IMPRESSED?????????????? ARE YOU KIDDING???…the Cubs suck. flat out. period. end of story. this type of run is what Quade the job this year. You can’t polish a turd!!!

    • Fishin Phil

      “You can’t polish a turd!!!”

      Yes you can, but you have to bake it in the oven for a couple of hours first.

  • RY

    classic fishin phil, still laughing at that one!

  • BFM

    Brett.

    That is a somewhat flawed rationale.
    I agree in the analysis. However,it is a rather flawed rationale.
    I can see being critical at the end of the season and even during the season….no problem.
    You applauded the 7 game win streak and then slapped them after one game loss.

    I understand the analysis and critique of the entire team, front office in the middle of a bad year……makes sense.

    To beat up a team after a 7 game win streak and diminish it’s bright spot….doesn’t make sense.

    Let’s just agree to disagree.

    BFM

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Agree to disagree, we must. I enjoyed the winning streak, but now that the Pirates have fully fallen flat on their face, I think it was fair to revisit the Cubs’ sweep of the Pirates. The circumstances changed.

  • Joe Cartwright

    Damn. I was hoping they would win the NL Central (since it obviously wasn’t going to be us..). I hope they turn it around (again, since it won’t be us) and if they don’t, I want to see the Cardinals/Brewers (whoever wins because it isn’t us or the Pirates…) get swept and fast.

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