Can We Pump the Brakes on Pumping the Brakes on the Cubs?
“Cubs sent home in their pajamas after series spanking by Dodgers” the headline sang in discordant tones that begged me to read while at the same time warning me of the dangers that lie within. Ever the glutton for punishment, I fell for the siren’s (there’s only one of them in this case, just so you don’t think I’m misplacing an apostrophe; yes, I’m a nerd for pointing that out) song.
You knew it was coming, though. It didn’t matter that the Cubs’ magic number is aging like Benjamin Button and is no longer able to legally buy a pint of Daisy Cutter in Wrigleyville or that they had just dropped a squeaker at the end of a West Coast swing because of a mental mistake. The boogeyman was going to slink from beneath the bed, perhaps because the team was wearing PJ’s for the trip home.
I’m not going block-quote grafs from the column or systematically shred the piece because we’ve got neither use or need for that. What I am going to take issue with, however, is this notion that the Cubs dropping two of three to the Dodgers is somehow indicative of what could happen should the teams square off again in October.
You wanna say that LA is playing great baseball right now and that getting the best pitcher on the planet back in time for the postseason makes them a really tough out? Great. That’s a perfect way to put it, if I do say so myself.[beautifulquote align=”right”]Conflating the outcome of a three-game series with that of a playoff series is a total farce.[/beautifulquote]
But to conflate the outcome of a three-game series at the conclusion of a road trip with that of a playoff series is a total farce. Remember when the Cubs swept the Mets in seven regular-season games last year? Yeah, that totally played out the same way in October.
And by looking only at losing a short series in LA, we’re ignoring the fact that the Cubs took three of four at Wrigley in late May/early June. Sure, they missed Kershaw that time around too, but my point is that the Cubs are 4-3 against the Dodgers on the season, they’re 14 games up in their division, and they’re just really flippin’ good in general.
You know what, though, I need to bring up a couple more things here before I go. To say that the Cubs were “a Kenley Janson [sic] blown save Friday from being a Dodger sweep” is to essentially negate Kris Bryant’s performance on Friday night. And the only reason Jansen had that third opportunity in the first place is because of an uncharacteristic mental error by Javy Baez. Weird, an “E” causing problems? Preposterous.
We could also point out that two of the Cubs’ starters this weekend were guys who won’t be in the playoff rotation. Or that Joe Maddon appeared to be punting Jason Hammel at least in part to get a better look at Rob Zastryzny in a new and different situation. And lest we forget, the Cubs are missing a starter and two of their top three bullpen arms right now too. There are any number of legitimate reasons to disregard the specific results of these games and to simply move ahead with the understanding that baseball things happen.
I know the team isn’t happy about losing a close game to close out the trip and I know the media isn’t happy about being kicked out by Dodgers security and being unable snap all kinds of onesie pics, but let’s try to keep things in perspective here. The Dodgers are good. The Cubs, by all accounts, are better.