Star of the Game – Travis Wood – .267 (WPA)
As a fan base, often we find ourselves deep in conversation about what is wrong with the Cubs roster. We constantly seek answers and yearn for something different. With a team that has been haunted so long by infinite obscurity, we- Cubs fans- often have only next year to look forward to. Often we find ourselves in a twilight zone of looking for the next scapegoat for the unlucky roller coaster that many, much longer than I, have been stuck on for so many years.
When the team is playing bad we look to the advanced statistics and say that team just continues to be unlucky. When the team is on a hot streak you’ll often find the pessimist calling the troops back and tempering expectations because they say we are outperforming. Look at any comment, most bloggers, and many in the press and you will find those that will constantly state that the team isn’t supposed to be competitive this year.
So why even put a team on the field?
The past three games show why the Cubs field a team. Games like today show why the game of baseball is so great. A pitcher, who many thought would be an afterthought this year, belted his second HR of the year; a grand slam for that matter. Travis Wood, the aforementioned afterthought, also continued his hot streak dominating on the mound. What were my favorite parts about this game? It wasn’t the win (that was great and everyone loves to raise the “W” flag).
It was watching Wellington Castillo skipping home with excitement after Wood hit his bomb. It was watching the guys in the dugout smile, have fun, and build and rally around each other. It was David DeJesus screaming from first base to second where Wood was standing just to do some sort of gunshot animation. That’s what winning teams get to do. They get to exploit the joy of the game and squeeze out more wins.
So although the past three games the Cubs have been dominating a not so good team in the White Sox, you may find yourself asking why is all of the talk of fun so important? When you are team with a positive run differential and all the advanced stats say you are losing based solely on an unpredictable series of events, maybe fun is the thing that will change it. I’m not advocating that the Cubs haven’t had fun in the past, but you’ll remember recently when Alfonso Soriano discussed getting tired of losing. You can remember just the other day when Kevin Gregg got upset about all the talk about deadline deals. Soriano and Gregg’s comments show that the team wasn’t enjoying what was going on.
Is having fun going to change things? No, probably not too much. Yet, when the series of events begin to line up in your favor and pitchers begin to hit grand slams something might be changing. Maybe enjoyment and continuity are the nonrecordable and unaccounted for statistic that may make a difference in a team like this. A Cubs team that has been dominant with their starting pitching, had a bullpen (although in flux) that has seemed to settle in recently, and had hitters that are driving the ball with authority.
The best thing I found about being a Cub fan is that you will never find more real, diehard fans, who believe in a team. No matter the situation or naysayers maybe will soon see the year of the Cubs.
The Cubs won this one 8-3 today. They beat a very good pitcher in Jake Peavy. Maybe, just maybe, the lake wind is changing in our favor.