Monday, August 21, 2006

The Standard For Cub Futility

Last Saturday afternoon, the FOX Baseball Game of the Week was the Cardinals/Cubs contest at Wrigley Field. The announcers did a lot of the typical blabbidy-blabbidy, which is to be expected because I'm sure they have orders from the top to make sure no nanosecond passes without their mouths running.

But they also did something that drives me up the wall, something that people within the game of baseball should be smart enough not to do: They misstated the standard for Chicago Cubs futility.

That standard, quite simply, is this: The Chicago Cubs have not won a National League pennant since 1945.

That's it. 61 years, no pennant. For 16 of those years, there were only seven other teams in the league. For 24 of those years, there were only 11 other teams.

That's not only bad, it defies mathematical probability. The Cubs should have won a couple of pennants purely by accident since 1945.

But they haven't, because they're a bad, bad organization. (The fact that they're so suckworthy isn't exactly important to this entry, but I'll admit to doing a little Cub-fan-baiting now and then. All in good fun, more or less.)

Point is, the FOX announcers kept referring to the fact that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. And while that's true, it's really just kind of the icing on the cake. It is irrelevant to speak of World Series futility when referring to a team that hasn't even appeared in the World Series since 1945.

Now, before the Boston Red Sox won the Series in 2004 (in four games I'd just as soon forget), there was talk of how many years had passed since they'd won a World Series. That was acceptable. It made sense, because the Sox had lost the Series in 1986, 1975, 1967, and 1946--four times since winning it in 1918 (when they beat, of course, the Cubs).

Baseball announcers should know better. If a team keeps going to the World Series and losing, you can talk about how long it's been since they've won one. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, though, please stick to the true standard: 61 years, no pennants.

Next time I hear someone say the Cubs just can't win a World Series, I'm going to point out that they haven't had much success in the Kentucky Derby, either.

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