One of my son’s few chores is to collect the trash from various places around the house and to then take our big garbage and recycling bins to the curb each Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. Well, he forgot last week, which was wonderful because it led to our garage smelling quite rank in the heat that ensued for the next several days. Kinda reminded me of the Cubs on the road.
When asked to conduct an autopsy on a particularly awful game, Joe Maddon will often dismiss any detailed analysis by saying the game belongs in the trash can. There are different iterations of his phrasing, but it all amounts to the same thing: The ugly loss isn’t worth examining because things got so sideways they can’t even yield constructive insights.
At a certain point, though, the trash can starts to fill up and even overflow. Rather than dumping it out and starting fresh, it seems as though the Cubs have simply rented out a dumpster that holds even more garbage and is that much harder to move once full.
Wednesday’s 11-1 laugher in Philly was the eighth time the Cubs have allowed double-digit runs, all of which they’ve lost. They’re on pace for 11 such contests by season’s end, just one ahead of last year, but they’ve already allowed eight runs on 18 instances after doing so 17 times last season. The Cubs have won only two of those games this year and have scored three or fewer runs in seven of them.
Conversely, they’ve scored 10 or more in three of those explosive contests, only one of which — a 14-8 win at Milwaukee on April 6 — resulted in a win. But of the 19 games in which the Cubs have scored eight or more runs, they’ve come away with a 17-2 record. If we’re being really honest, there’s just about as little to be taken from these games as from the bad losses.
So where does that leave Maddon and his squad? Can they really only grow from the more “normal” contests that feature lower scores or smaller margins? I guess that depends on how hungry the Cubs really are, since they’re clearly not desperate enough to engage in any dumpster diving at this point.
Oh, and did I mention that 13 of the 18 aforementioned games in which the Cubs have allowed 8+ runs have come on the road? If asked to guess, you probably would have pegged an even higher number. I feel perfectly fine saying I don’t have any answers for what has ailed the Cubs on the road this season, but I’d suspect it has something to do with simply throwing games away or sweeping issues under the rug.
Chickens and eggs, though, so it’s impossible to really nail something down. Apologies if you came here looking for a more caustic screed or some kind of esoteric root cause, but I have neither the energy nor the insight for such things at this point. Maybe I can drum up a little more righteous indignation if the Cubs manage to get swept in Philly and then fail yet again to win a Central road series when the head to Pittsburgh.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to collect the trash.