I phrase that title that way because, honestly, I don’t even know for myself if I find this to be … impressive? Comforting?
Here’s the deal: when the Cubs started this brutal 23-straight-games-in-23-days-in-45-cities stretch, they had a 2.5-game lead in the NL Central. Now, with two days left in the stretch*, they have a 1.0-game lead.
That means, if they win both tonight and tomorrow, they will have actually grown their lead during a time when it should have been the hardest to do so. That would be amazing, and we can all go out into the streets and do a happy dance if it happens. There will be no soul searching or equivocation. It would be very easy to put into perspective.
Similarly, if the Cubs lose both of these two games, generating a perspective will be as easy as look at the hole in your wall.
But what about that other outcome? What if the Cubs lose the series by splitting these final two games?
If they split tonight and tomorrow, they’ll have lost a game and a half on their lead since these 23 games began – is that really that bad, considering the taxing stretch of baseball?
On the one hand, the Cubs have been 12-8 in this stretch. Viewed in isolation, that’s good! Split these two games, and it’s 13-9 (plus one rainout), which, hey, I would definitely have taken that coming into this stretch.
The rub, of course, is that four of those losses – two series losses – would have come against the Brewers, who would suddenly be just a game behind the Cubs. In that light, despite winning a lot of games, the Cubs losing 1.5 games on their division lead actually seems pretty darn bad. The fault, primarily, would lie with the Brewers, though, who have lost just twice in their last 12 games. At some point they deserve some credit right? Especially if they make up ground over a stretch when the Cubs had a solidly winning record?
Like I said at the outset, I don’t know if this is helpful context or not. If the Cubs win a couple games the next two days, we’re gonna feel really good. If they lose them both, we’re going to be tearing out and eating our own hair.
But if they split these two? I’m really just not sure that’s all that bad, when you consider everything. Even if that scant one-game lead will look scary small, as it does today.
*(Note that, thanks to MLB’s insane scheduling plans, the 23-games-in-23-days is about to become 30-games-in-30-days-because-eff-you-Cubs.)