The Chicago Cubs seem to be suffering from a major case of homesickness.
I say that because, heading into Tuesday’s game at American Family Field in Milwaukee, the team carries a woeful 16-24 record away from Wrigley Field. That mark pales in comparison to Chicago’s 26-13 record at the Friendly Confines, where fans’ enthusiasm has powered the team in 2021.
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Last year, signage covered the famous bleachers and artificial fan noise was pumped in. The team managed to sneak into the postseason, thanks largely in part to a scorching 13-3 start to the 60-game spring. This time around, it’s back to the traditional 162-game grind – and fans are here for it.
"“It gives you an energy vibe off their energy, whether it’s a day game, night game that’s sold out,” Joc Pederson told NBC Sports Chicago. “The fans are screaming and the beer snake, all that good stuff.”"
I was at the first full capacity game earlier this month between the Cubs and Cardinals and can 100 percent confirm there’s a different energy level to the traditionally hyped fans in the bleachers. There’s a hunger and a pent-up enthusiasm and energy, whether the team is up big or getting shellacked.
"“I heard someone trying to… He said, ‘I want to buy your cups for twenty dollars,'” Pederson said of fans trying to buy empty cups for their cup snakes recently. “I was like, why don’t you just go buy a couple beers? But no, he wanted to buy empty cups. I was like, man, you guys are nuts, but it’s funny."
Chicago Cubs: Can fans help this team patch over its numerous holes?
Given the multiple holes in the roster (starting rotation, infield depth, backup catcher), it’s worth wondering whether or not the Cubs have enough to get back to October, let alone have a legitimate shot at a championship. The next few weeks will determine a lot, including the front office’s direction at the trade deadline.
Chicago’s next five games (including Tuesday night) are away from Wrigley Field, with two more in Milwaukee followed by a three-game weekend set against the Reds in Cincinnati. They’re coming off three-straight losses to close out the Dodgers series after kicking things off with a combined no-hitter.
This stretch of the schedule was always going to be tough, but the road struggles are making matters worse with each passing day. While there’s not as much fans can do on the road, packing the Confines on game day could help the team do just enough to stay afloat until reinforcements arrive.
I’m not even saying there’s a blockbuster acquisition in the cards come July because there’s not. But with key pieces nearing a return from the IL, the Cubs might just claw their way out of a brutal month of June with a chance to hit its stride in July – bolstered by the best fans in baseball at their back.