Chicago Cubs: Why are they a bigger choke job than the Dodgers?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It’s everywhere you look. Are the Chicago Cubs choking? Will they miss the playoffs? Wait, how is this the biggest story of the second half?

The Chicago Cubs lead in the NL Central shrank to two games after being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers. When you start looking at Cubs’ news, it’s all about how the Cubs could be choking in 2017. The Indians have won 19 straight. The Dodgers have watched their 21 game lead shrink to a nine game lead. Every outlet seems to be talking about how the Cubs are “blowing” it. They weren’t in first until after the break after trailing the Brewers much of the first half. And rarely has a defending champion been in the position they’re in this late in the season.

But the Cubs are the talk of the town. I guess the good news in there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The Cubs sweep at the hands of the Brewers has the baseball world talking about them. This is nothing compared to 1969. But the Crew aren’t playing .800 baseball though, either. It’s a little bit Cubs, a little bit Brewers. But again, what about the Dodgers or the Indians? Maybe it’s simply because I’m a Cubs’ fan that it’s all I hear about. But I don’t consider this a “choke job” by the Cubs. Disappointing? Absolutely.

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One word

The Cubs season can be summed up in one word. Inconsistency. Where you want to apply that description is up to you. Mostly, it’s been with the offense. The team has relied heavily on the long ball. But it’s amazing to see a team score 30 runs in a series, only to be shut down and held to three. The Cubs have had to do it without Addison Russell, Willson Contreras, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta at times. But everyone has injuries. It can be a reason for poor play, but never an excuse.

The bullpen–which had to carry the load when the starters struggled–went from impressive to a liability. And when the Cubs knew it was a concern and traded for help? Well, not much better. The help that they got in Justin Wilson has only added to the pressures of the failing bullpen. Carl Edwards hasn’t been the same. Pedro Strop has his moments. One of the best out in the pen? Brian Duensing. A cheap signing that has been brilliant for the Cubs.

But again, back to why the Cubs? I guess part of it is the talk of a “dynasty.” Some of it was in-house. Some came from the pundits, outlets, etc. Either way, you’ll draw a lot of attention to yourselves. The Cubs still have the lead. But the narrative has switched from last year. Loveable losers no more. But this year, it’s about what they aren’t doing. And non-Cubs’ fans are eating it up.

Next: Schwarber rides the bench as Cubs get swept

I don’t know if the Cubs will make the playoffs. I don’t know if they do make it if they’ll be able to make any noise. But I do know the Cubs are the “biggest choke job” in baseball. The Dodgers are weaving a fine line with that, but I think they’ll be alright. If it makes people happy to say they are, so be it. And when the Cubs aren’t the “defending champs” anymore–people will remind you of that.

This season isn’t over. Just like it wasn’t when the Cubs were down 5 1/2 games in mid-July. It may come down to the final few games this season. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a fan base give up on a team so many times in one season. Are those people really “fans”? Maybe not. But last season set an expectation that Cubs fans need to ease up off of. Still, the Cubs aren’t choking.