Since the end of the war (meaning the Big One that ended in ’45), the Chicago Cubs have done best under former Tampa Bay Rays managers. The runaway success of the Cardinals and Pirates this year has somewhat masked what Joe Maddon and his Cubs have accomplished. Since 1945, this year’s 97 wins has been equaled only once, in 2008, when Sweet Lou Piniella was the manager. Maddon enjoyed some winning seasons at Tampa Bay before coming to the Cubs. Piniella didn’t.
Even in the Cubs’ division-winning years of ’89 and ’ought-three, the team won only 93 and 88 games. In the heart-breaker of ’69, they won 92 under Leo the Lip Durocher. To see more Cubs wins than 97, you have to go back to ’45. But that was the last year of the war when so many major leaguers were playing against the Wehrmacht and the Imperial Japanese Navy rather than against each other. Major League rosters then were taken up to a large extent by women, children, pensioners, the disabled, and the clergy. Under these odd circumstances the Cubs won 98. Under more normal circumstances (except for the economy) in ’35 they won 100. All the way back to 1910 (Tinker to Evers to Chance days), a remarkable 104.
Cubs history could advance another step tonight in Pittsburgh if Cubs pitching Stud Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA) can handle the Pirates in the one-off Wild Card game. The Pirates, winners of 98 during the regular season, counter with Gerrit Cole (no slouch himself at 19-8 and 2.60). First pitch is at 8:08 on TBS, so you won’t have endure that irritating little strike-zone box and all those checks and lines that the drones at ESPN insist on disfiguring its baseball broadcasts with. (Graphic folks in all sports are out of hand and need to have their chains pulled. JUST LET US WATCH THE DAMN BALL GAME!! But I feel a rant coming on, and so will retire. Enjoy the game. Amen.)
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