The Chicago Cubs have struggled – badly – of late. But they have a 13-day stretch here in May that could spell redemption for Joe Maddon’s ball club.
The movie 13 Days tells the story of the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis during the Kennedy Administration. Of course we all know how that ended and lucky for us it ended well. Not nearly as significant, the Chicago Cubs have a 13 days coming up that could get them back on track.
Chicago will do battle with the last place Marlins, Reds and White Sox in coming weeks. In between are four games against what I think are the overperforming Atlanta Braves. Swept by the Cardinals in last weekend’s series, the Cubs must rise up and pound those clubs in these next 13 days.
What separates the great teams from the good ones is not just how they perform against the quality opponents, but rather how they dominate the bad ones.
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In 2016, the Cubs beat sub-.500 clubs at a near .700 winning percentage. That’s how you win 103 ballgames and secure home field advantage in the playoffs.
For example, in 2016 the Cubs were 15-4 against the Reds, a .789 winning percentage. They attained similar percentages against the Nats and Diamondbacks (.714), Phillies (.833), Pirates (.778), and a smattering of American League basement dwellers.
Now some might argue, and not without merit, that games in May are not as significant as games in August and September. That’s true, except it is the winning in May that gives the games in August and September their significance. It is also those games in May that matter when home field advantage comes into focus as the playoffs loom.
The Cubs are not out of it by any stretch in 2018 and we should have every expectation they will make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. So why worry about 13 days in May? Because the hitting and pitching haven’t yet gelled despite being 30+ games into the season. Those 13 days are the perfect place for that to happen. If it happens then the rest of the league is in for a rough ride. If it doesn’t happen then we are likely looking at a repeat of 2017.