This could mean many things to many people:
Should Nationals and Dodgers fans be freaking out even more than Cubs fans? pic.twitter.com/VztkDKgPzV
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 14, 2018
The three best “on-paper” teams in the National League all have losing records after 12, 13, and 14 games. We know what we’re thinking about the Cubs, but I’m curious what we are thinking about the Nationals and Dodgers.
Divorcing myself, for a moment, from the Cubs’ legitimate travails here in the early going, I would look at the Nationals and Dodgers and think to myself, “Meh, it’s early, and they’re so good, they’ll be fine.” There’s no part of me that looks at the standings and thinks, “Oh, man, because of those standings the Nationals and Dodgers must be worse than we thought, and they are in serious trouble.”
And if I believe that, is it because I think those two teams are SO MUCH better than the Cubs or their divisions SO MUCH worse than the NL Central? Or, if I believe that the only real story about the Nationals and Dodgers right now is that it’s early, shouldn’t I say the same thing about the Cubs? And if I don’t say that about the Cubs, why do I resist saying that about the Cubs?
My guess is, if I were as closely covering the Nationals and Dodgers, I’d resist simply saying “it’s early and they’ll be fine.” My guess is – just as it is right now with the Cubs – I’d find actual baseball reasons to be concerned. These guys aren’t doing X, those guys can’t seem to Y. I’d say that these are good teams that will probably demonstrate that goodness over the longer haul, but I have concerns about various things.
In any case, unlike those two teams, I *am* close to the Cubs, and I *do* see the concerns. The club’s situational hitting is troubling. The starting pitching has been extremely uneven. And the Cubs’ schedule has been such that it’s very disappointing that they couldn’t bank a few more wins than this. Missing Anthony Rizzo for so much of this early stretch certainly hurts, too.
I don’t know how comforting I find the records of the Nationals or Dodgers, because, strictly speaking, they don’t have anything to do with the Cubs’ performance. Instead, I suppose it just provides perspective that other very good teams on paper can – for reasons earned or not – have crummy records halfway through April.