Cubbies Collapse Ranks With The All-time Worst
The end of the 2019 campaign for the Chicago Cubs is another chapter in baseball’s long history of teams figuring out ways to avoid playing in the postseason.
On August 8, the Cubbies were up 3 1/2 games in the National League Central and were 11 games over .500. They then muddled their way through the month, dropping five here, winning three there. As they scuffled about, the St. Louis Cardinals were winning 20-of-25 and taking control of the division.
Still, the Cubs looked better than the Milwaukee Brewers, who couldn’t get anything going and were barely above .500 for weeks.
And then both teams lost one of their best players to injury. The reactions of the teams has been fairly jaw-dropping.
Milwaukee won 18 of 20 and 11 of 13 after All-star and MVP candidate Christian Yelich went down. The Cubs went 4-5 after shortstop Javier Baez was lost with a broken thumb.
But then Chicago rallied with a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates and a sweep of the San Diego Padres. Things were looking up. They had a one game lead for one of the wildcard spots and were only two games out of the lead for the central.
And then, it all went to hell.
September 17: two runs scored, six hits, 13 left on base. One for four with runners in scoring position.
September 21: Cubs lead St. Louis going into the top of the ninth. Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong go deep off closer Craig Kimbrel to win 9-8.
September 22: Chicago is swept at home by St. Louis for the first time in 98 years.
September 24: 9-2 loss to Pittsburgh as Kyle Hendricks gives up six runs in six innings. The Cubs offense goes one for 10 with runners in scoring position.
September 25: John Lester goes six innings and gives up two runs. The Cubs lose when David Phelps uncorks two wild pitches to hang a loss on Brad Wieck.
September 26: Manager Joe Maddon waves the white flag, and not the one with the W on it, and sits all of his regular starters –Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, etc. Jose Quintana responds on the mound by giving up 12 hits and seven earned runs in five innings.
If there was a way to lose, they did it. Nine losses later, they were seven games out of the wildcard as the Brewers (and the New York Mets) passed them by.
It looked like a NASCAR race when a driver gets caught out of line and the whole field blows past? It was a phenomenal flame out, and maybe one of the worst ever.
It’s certainly up there with the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies for year-end skids The Phils lost 10 in a row and a five-and-a-half game lead with 12 games to play.
After leading Milwaukee by nine games and the Yankees by 14 in mid-July of the 1978 season, Boston went 29-36 in the second half before rallying to win eight straight to force a playoff with the Yankees. Some guy named Bucky Dent homered to win the game for New York.
Odd that someone would name a child with a swear word as a middle name but that’s how it appears in just about all of the literature to be found on the subject in the state of Massachusetts.
In 1993, the San Francisco Giants had a 10-game lead in July but then lost nine of ten in September and didn’t make the postseason. Unlike the Cubs, they actually won 10 of their last 12. But in the season finale, they needed to beat the Dodgers. In a long list of season-ending, “We can’t win and we’re going to make sure you don’t either” moments, Dodgers starter Kevin Gross threw a complete game, six-hitter and Los Angeles won 12-1 behind two home runs by Mike Piazza.
The 2009 Detroit Tigers led the American League Central by three with five games to play. They lost four of those five to Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox to finish second.
In 2011, the Atlanta Braves were 7 1/2 ahead in the wildcard race before going 9-18 in September .
The 2007 Mets had the best record in the National League on Sept 13. went 5-12 down the stretch, and lost the East to the Phillies.
The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers didn’t exactly collapse after being up 13 1/2 on the New York Giants, but they didn’t exactly finish on fire, either. Brooklyn went 26-22 while the New York Giants went 37-8. The Giants won a three game playoff over Brooklyn with Bobby Thompson’s “Shot heard ’round the world” blast.
Sure, the Cubs 2019 swoon won’t be remembered as being quite as dramatic, but for Cubs fans, the thought of nine straight losses isn’t going to go away any time soon. Just like those other clubs on the list, there is going to be a long off season wondering what might have been.