Watching the Cubs in the Bronx took me back to 2016
By Joshua Burt
In case you missed it, the Chicago Cubs made the trip out to New York this past weekend to play the Yankees on Fox’s Baseball Night in America.
I was excited because our busy schedule prevents me from watching too much TV these days and I could sit and watch a game. I grilled up some steaks and the wife made baked potatoes, broccoli, and fruit. I figured this would be a great evening with food, family and the Cubs on national television. I quickly realized that I would be regretting that decision and would end up eating dinner outside on the back patio – as far away from the TV as possible.
The Yankees leadoff man is this year’s early favorite to win the American League Most Valuable Player in Aaron Judge. He drove the second pitch in his at-bat deep into the left-field stands. He wound up hitting another one later in the game as the Bronx Bombers tallied a total of six long-balls Saturday night. Adding insult to injury, longtime Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo contributed to the home run derby in Yankee Stadium
The entire weekend was a bust as the Lovable Losers were swept out of the city that never sleeps. The final scores of those three games would be 2-1, 8-0, and 18-4. If you were keeping track, our boys were dominated, 28-5.
I have tried my best to leave the past behind me. However, while watching the Yankees, I thought to myself that I remember watching a team from the North Side performing like this before. During the broadcast, the Fox announcers reminded us all that you need all three phases of the game to be successful (hitting, pitching and fielding). To keep things simple, you need to outscore your opponents to win games. Nothing revolutionary about that last statement but it’s that simple.
Yankees dominating in a way very similar to the 2016 Cubs
In the first 61 games, the Yankees have a 45-16 record with a run differential of +129. Back in 2016, the Cubs ended up having a very similar record with 43-18. They went on to finish with the best record in baseball at 103-58 with a +252 run differential.
Offensively, the Bronx Bombers are tearing up the competition. They are leading the American League in runs, home runs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging and total bases. The Cubbies were very similar in 201, ending the year second in runs, fifth in home runs, first in walks and on-base percentage and fourth in both total bases and slugging percentage.
It sounds great, but you need to be able to keep the other team from scoring. The Evil Empire seems to be doing a fantastic job of that too. With pitching, they are leading the American League in wins, earned run average, shutouts, runs, earned runs and strikeouts. The 2016 World Series champions would lead all of those categories as well, minus strikeouts (where they finished third). Another fun fact about the teams and their pitching – both would see all five of their starters with an ERA under 4.00. It’s very well possible the Yankees could have that happen too.
The fielding is already there. The Yanks added a four-time Gold Glove winner at first base in Rizzo. Other recipients of the award playing for Aaron Boone’s club include Joey Gallo (outfield), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (third base) and DJ LeMahieu. The Cubbies ended up having two guys bring home that coveted defensive hardware back in 2016, in outfielder Jason Heyward and Rizzo at first.
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I wish things were different this past Saturday night. I wish this season would be on a different trajectory. However, we have to live in the present and keep our eyes on the future. The Cubs may have been swept this past weekend by the future World Series champions. It’s possible because we just watched greatness in New York. It certainly felt like it – because we’ve seen it before. At some point, I would like to think our boys will get back to a similar place of winning baseball.