Well here we are on the eve of the fall classic with the worst to first Tampa Bay Rays vs. every baseball fans favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. What an historic event, hey?
Of course the 2008 World Series does not have the Chicago Cubs representing the National League, it has the first franchise to 10,000 losses, the Philadelphia Phillies. A point that should not be lost on those few faithful left in Cubdom, that milestones of futility don't necessarily mean good things can't happen.
When you look at the series matchup you are however struck by some striking differences in how these teams are constructed opposed to the Cubs. There are a number of stats for sure on the face of it, that you could argue the Cubs compare quite favorably. However, on closer examination the raw numbers, BA, OBP, Runs Scored and ERA don't accurately show the true makeup of the teams.
Characteristics like balance, managerial decisions and that never give up attitude are hard to quantify but let me try.
First, when you see the Phillies in 5 games dispatch the Dodgers, who had just swept the Cubs, you have to ask yourself, WTF just happened?
Second, when you see the Red Sox down 3 to 1 come back from a 7 run deficit with just a handful of outs left in an elimination game, then almost win the damn series you have to ask yourself, WTF just happened?
Third, when you see the Rays bring in a rookie pitcher that had only one month of MLB experience into a bases loaded situation in a 2 run game in the 8th inning then, let him close out the game you have to ask yourself, WTF just happened?
When you take a closer look at the Cubs you can see how these intangibles while they do not alone take the place of talent, are key ingredients in a teams ability to advance against the elite teams vying for a championship.
First, the lack of balance in Cubs lineup really pokes you right in the eye when looking at the above mentioned teams. The Cubs lack of quality LHB's in their lineup made a good Dodger RHP staff all look like Cy Young.
Second, I think we all saw the value of defense throughout the playoffs and I can't think of one team that wasn't extremely strong up the middle.
Third, where was the fucking passion and grittiness of the Cubs? Outside of the helmet bashing, bat flinging of Lee in game 3, were the rest of these lames sleep walking or what?
Lastly, can you ever imagine Piniella relying on the rookie pitcher Price, in a do or die situation?
Still Hendry and Piniella are given extensions, WTF!