help me obi wanHelp me Obi Wan Epstienobi.  You’re my only hope.

You guys see what I did there?  I changed around a Star Wars quote.

Nailed it.

But really, much like Leia, I think we need some help.  There’s actually some similarities between her predicament and the Cubs thus far.  Her planet, which was home to all her friends and family, was completely obliterated along with everything she loved and held dear.  She literally lost everything.

Our baseball team is stinky and it makes us swear more at the TV.

See?  It’s all about drawing comparisons.  Totally similar.

(Sorry for the spoiler.  But c’mon, if you haven’t seen Star Wars yet … I mean, what the hell, man?)

On Opening Day this year, I went to Wrigley to find out if anyone has hope – as is Cubs fan tradition.  Then I wrote about it here.  The results were hilarious booze initiated yays and nays, as was expected.  But where do we stand now that things aren’t going so hot?  Do we have hope?

At the time of this writing, the Cubs are 11.5 games back in the Central along with the Brewers.  This translates to either being tied for last, or being tied for 4th.  Optimists and pessimists alike can agree that neither is where a ball club would like to be at this point in the season.

As of Friday, the Cubs are also 10-14 at home and 8-13 on the road.  They’re also 27th in the league for total wins only ahead of the Mets, Astros and Marlins.  Yep.  The Mets.  The Astros.  The Marlins.

More?  Alright.  Currently the Cubs are: 26th in OBP, 24th in total RBI’s, and dead last in walks.

I know, I know.  These probably aren’t the most important stats when judging a ball club, but they matter.  Just like Princess Leia’s planet mattered.  And clearly I singled out three categories which are the Cubs’ worst.

Sure, they’re doing some good things too.  For example, they’re 9th in slugging and 7th in stolen bases.  So runners that are getting on are getting over … just not all the way over (that’s what she said?).

Those three categories though.  It’s bugging me.  Last and nearly last?  Hoping to find some relief, I went back in time to check out past champs’ stats in those three categories.  Here’s how they finished in relation to the rest of the league.

12 Giants: 

  • OBP: 8th 
  • BB: 13th
  • RBI: 15th

’11 Cardinals:

  • OBP: 3rd
  • BB: 6th
  • RBI: 5th

’10 Giants: 

  • OBP: 19th
  • BB: 21st
  • RBI: 17th

’09 Yankees:

  • OBP: 1st
  • BB: 1st
  • RBI: 1st

’08 Phillies:

  • OBP: 16th
  • BB: 8th
  • RBI: 8th

What’s all this mean?  I don’t know.  I guess unless you’re the ’09 Yankees and have a healthy A-Rod, Teixeira, and Jeter there’s really not a correlation to a Championship and those three categories.  You just can’t be last in any of them … which the Cubs are currently.

But what about pitching?  The Cubs are currently 11th in ERA.  That’s not bad.  Let’s go back again at the past five champs’ ERA standings.

12 Giants: 

  • 7th

’11 Cardinals:

  • 12th

’10 Giants:

  • 1st

’09 Yankees:

  • 12th

’08 Phillies:

  • 6th

See?  We’re hanging in there?  Hope and stuff?

Ugh, I can’t do it.  I can’t even do my best Tom Hanks impression and act like I have hope.  I’m more like Keanu Reeves in the third ‘Matrix.’

(Another spoiler, that movie is really very bad. [Ed. – I liked the way ‘The Matrix’ trilogy wrapped up, but I’ve found myself increasingly alone on that one.])

This year is different.  I don’t pretend to know what to do to fix it.  I defer to better baseball minds.  But I’m already sick of “rebuilding.”  I just want to whine about it about like a 3-year-old who’s past his nap time.  I just want to be gooooooood.

Think about this:  my great-grandpa (whom I knew and was close to) lived his whole  life without seeing the Cubs win the World Series.  How depressing is that?  He loved the Cubs.  And they did nothing for him.  Talk about unconditional love.  It’s easy to say it’s been over 100 years since they last won.  But when you put it in terms of human lives … whoa, that’s deep, man.  How’s that for hope?

We need more than a solid starting rotation – which, granted, some teams would kill to have.  But I don’t want to hope for a pitcher’s duel every game and pray that Rizzo can somehow hit it out of the park for a 1-0 win.  I want more.

Maybe this will change and the Cubs will go on a run and start hitting with men on (see the other night against the Pirates after a gem by Samardzija) and maybe the bullpen will stop blowing leads that shouldn’t be blown (see the night before, after a Garza gem).  Oh, and maybe I won’t have to stare at Shawn Camp’s face anymore.  Talk to me in July.  But for now, the Death Star is pointed at Alderaan and we’re looking out the window waiting for an inaccurate space explosion complete with sound and a fire ball.

So again I say: help me Obi Wan Epstienobi.  You’re my only hope.

  • redfacecubfan

    Great article; love the reference to your great grandfather. I have the exact same situation in my family. While the players are on the field, I can say Sveum has made at least 6 terrible (terrible) {terrible} calls this season, of which have blown games. I am not impressed with his ho-hum attitude, with his team not playing like a team, or with the relentless support of his poor decision making.

  • Frank F.

    We’ve known all along that our strength lies primarily in AA and below. The fact that the big league club is back to sucking after fooling us for a few weeks shouldn’t change that. Castro and Rizzo are really the only offensive players that factor into the grand scheme of things, and while it would be nice for Castro to get his OBP, which is what earned him a call up at such an early age and for Rizzo to bust out of the slump he’s been in since signing his contract, due to their ages, I’m not too worried about them yet.

    • Spriggs

      If even part our strengths lie in AA, we’re in worse shape than I thought.

      • Myles

        You may be right.

  • arta

    this year has showed me Sveum is not the guy. his moves have been very bad and i’m being kind there. Castro has to be moved to another position as I’ve said many times. and i’m still not sold on Rizzo, but he’s still young and not the problem here. don’t trade Volg, nothing more to say!

  • LouBrown

    Yep, I have already written them off this year. So we are looking at the 4th pick in the 2014 draft? Maybe even higher after the sell off? More money for international FA’s next year.

    • Brett

      4 seems like the highest possible.

      • Chef Brian

        Brett, do you mean you think the Cubs will get better or worse? I think we are in for a long summer…

        • Brett

          Better for a stretch because of simple regression, but worse over the long haul. I have long said that I expect another really rough second half because I expect another sell-off.

          That said, there is zero chance of the Cubs passing the Astros or Marlins this year, and I suspect the Twins are going to be “tough,” too. Cubs are likely to fall into the 4 to 7 range of worst records.

          • Timmy

            But, due to your diplomatic nature, you’re not overtly stating why the Cubs are awful. Sometimes these things come from the top-down. You win when you try to win, and the Cubs have repeatedly stated that they wont even try to win for another 3-4 years (5-6 years in total from the Epstein management takeover). If they don’t win at that point the only recourse will be to say that Epstein was an overblown figure with a lucky Red Sox team, and that the Ricketts ran the team into the ground as best they could. If we win, some of their current narrative about long-term gains will look to be at least partially accurate.

            • Jp3

              They’ll try to win before 5-6 years, Theo’s contract is a five year deal right? Pretty sure he didn’t want to go in to the contract negotiations saying I should get a raise for the perennial losers I’ve created…

            • Kyle

              The Cubs have stated no such thing, and I think the deeper statistical evidence shows that they put together a pretty game attempt at trying to win this year.

      • Willie Smith

        twins have very little to sell off; and have more AAA players rady in 2nd half.
        3rd worst; here we come.

        • Brett

          That’s the hope, if you want to put it that way. There are always surprise terrible teams, though – Mets and Padres, for example, could easily be down that way, too. The real key is to stay in the bottom 10 …

  • LouBrown

    Last year I had them written off by tax day. So improvement right?

    • Spriggs

      No, you were just too kind last year.

  • cubzfan23

    Im an idiot when it comes to the cubs. I am still holding out hope. It is however irritating to watch these guys play. Feldman was pitching good until what the 4th. You could clearly see him get frustrated when not getting that third strike call. So what does he do but give up a three run homer to a guy hitting less than .200 with one homer on the year. To me this is the stuff that has to stop. I want to believe but like the rest of you I know this year is done.

    • JoeyCollins

      Yes we really need to stop giving up three run homers. Glad someone finally noticed that.

  • Die hard

    I may have known your great grandpa– at least I feel his pain… The crux of the problem may be Wrigley Field as the owners could throw any group on the field and call it a team but half the fans that did show up came just for the experience of the park. The Ricketts are banking on this continuing and are adding the Jumbotron to insure fans will come. May have been better to move the team and start over like the Seattle basketball team moving to OK and did well – that’s extreme but a move to the burbs may be just enuf to start a winning tradition

  • The Dude Abides

    Tracking for 100 losses

    300% on base percentage

    Bullpen that has 4A talent & one lefty

    On the job training coaching staff

    Suddenly a strapped for cash major market team

    What the hell – just another year of your life

    God help us if a team with real money comes a knockin and Theo leaves

  • fester30

    That’s no moon. It’s a space station.

  • sven-erik312

    We’ve got three more years of this. Let’s say that the Cubs had caught some early breaks and were in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. Even if they got it, the farm system would still not be in a position to be able to regularly send up good young new players ready to slide right in. The farm system we want cannot be created over night. Good days are coming, but they ain’t here yet.

  • DReese

    I laughed forever at that picture

  • Frank

    The only difference between last years turd sandwich and this years is this year the turd sandwich doesn’t have any cheese or mayo. I mean Less payroll.
    Theo and company need to move up their timetable, because their not going to get the draft pick they want an more as long as Houston and Miami are around.

  • 5412


    Great post. My dad was born in 1909 so he experienced the same thing your grandfather did. I saw my first game in 1944, and HOPE I don’t share the same experience.

    How do you define HOPE has a lot to do with our answer. Do I have any expectations for post season play? NO, most emphatically. However I HOPE our tradeable assets do well enough to bring value at the trading deadline. I HOPE that those assets stay healthy and no one has any doubts about Garza, Soriano and others who have the potential to bring us some good young studs in return.

    Look at the article above this one where Kevin Gregg says there is an entirely different culture on this team than the one he played on a few years back. That was the term Ricketts used when he fired Hendry, we need to change the culture. That is significant progress and cause for hope, just in a longer perspective.

    Like your grandfather, this is my 69th season following the team so I have a wider perspective. I see a team losing a lot of one run games, many with the tying and lead run on base. I see a team that just flat does not seem to get the two out hits when they need them; yet our good pitching staff somewho seems to give them up to the opposition. What that says to me is the plan is working and we are getting closer.

    I HOPE they can close the gap and our stockpiling of young talent will come together much like the Reds did with Joey Votto and others.

    ….and finally I HOPE we can all celebrate together. Being a Cub fan is a multi-generational thing.


  • Dustin S

    I think it was Bob Brenly last year that said good teams aren’t in a lot of close games to lose, and I really think there is something to that.

    The Cubs really deserve to probably have at least 5 more wins this year based on performance. Their run differential is only -10, which by comparison the Nationals are -23 and have a .521 record. Some of the pieces are definitely there on this team. But you look around the league at the teams that probably figure to be in the playoffs, and they all have ~+30 to +60 run differentials. So it’s a bit of cold water that this team is still missing a few pieces even if everything was hitting on all cylinders. It’s also a bit crazy that Houston is -90 and Miami is -77. We may have some trouble catching them in the draft race. Those would be some painful teams to be fans of right now.

  • OCCubFan

    A team is never as awful as it seems during a losing streak. A team is never as great as it seems during a winning streak. Remember the posts on here after the Cubs won 3 in a row.

    As Doc, Kyle, Brett and I have pointed out in various ways, the Cubs are due for some serious regression to more favorable results.

  • BT

    Brenly’s wrong then. Both the Giants and Tigers( the WS teams) had more 1 run games in 2012 than the Cubs did. The Cubs were 15-27. The Tigers were 21-27. The Giants were 30-20. I think other than Baltimore, every playoff team had as many or more 1 run games than the Cubs.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Brenly was not wrong if you look at games over many seasons. You get a horse-shoe relationship between run-differential and 1-run games: the teams that are really dominant/dominated play in fewer 1-run games whereas the crowd of “average” teams (which often includes some playoff contenders these days) play in more.

      This makes sense from first principles. Close games are most probable when you have two equally good teams. If you are an average team, then there are a lot of other teams that are roughly as good or as bad as you. If you are a very good or very bad team, then there are far fewer teams that are roughly as good or as bad as you. Moreover, there is a small pool of teams that are much worse/better than you: and close games are least probable there.

      So, with really good and really bad teams, you expect to get a slightly flatter distribution of differences in scores and a slightly greater proportion of games decided by 2+ runs. (That’s why we get WS teams with sub-0.500 records in 1-run games and 95+ loss teams with 0.500+ records in 1-run games.)

  • Idaho Razorback

    Well said 5412. I always have hope. As far as my all time favorite movie, just ask Andy Dufresne. As far as Franks comment, this years turd sandwich comes without any bread.

  • ChicagoMike702

    My grandfather lived 81 years (died in ’06), his older brother worked at Wrigley and took him to the park daily. He obviously never saw a winner either, it’s sad.

    • ChicagoMike702

      Took him daily when he was young of course.

  • Cheryl

    I try to be optimistic but its difficult now. The cubs are a bad team and the different culture that they hope to establish may just not come until the drafted players get to the majors. Most I believe are at AA or single A.

    On the current team there isn’t much to offer in trade. What players will want to come to a team that’s so much in transition if the club starts going after the high priced free agents. . And as fans its harder to identify with some of the current players. Castro goes through spurts. Sometimes he’s great at other times his mind seems to be on something besides baseball. LaHair had the attitude you wanted but after Rizzo made it he was a goner. He had no security and his weakness against left-handers became very apparent. This will probably be the best time to see what kind of a manager Sveum really is. But he’s got to learn to manage without constantly going to matchups. Perhaps things will come together more for the team but at this point I don’t think so.

    If Theo and company want to maintain the interest of the fans they’ll have to start pulling some of the players up from the minors despite the fact that they haven’t been there long. Soler’s on the 40 man roster. Bring him up near the end of June. I think the roster stands at 38 or 39. Why not bring up one of the minor league pitchers to bolster the bull pen. And don’t put the pitcher or Soler on the bench to watch – play them. They can’t be any worse than what’s out there now, can they?