Any time anyone from my hometown talks about how Chicago is the greatest city in the world, the first dissenting retort you’ll hear is “but what about those long, harsh, brutal winters?”
Fair point, especially since we’ve had a whooping three days of 70+ degrees in 2011. (’09 had 11 by this point, last year had 14, the average is ten), and even though it’s Cinco de Mayo, this week felt an awful lot like winter at times.
The other main negative stereotype against Chicago (surprisingly, it’s not the obesity rate, people usually save the fat jokes for Milwaukee first, and Houston second) is it’s pathetic track record in MLB history.
Prior to the 2005 World Series win by the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Cubs combined with the Sox to produce an incredible 176 seasons without a title. What follows is some numbers that redefine the ugly, the uglier and the hideous. Or as you can call it in 2011, the Cubs, the local forecast and the White Sox.
Right now the Cubs are the best of a weak field that includes the “springtime” (whatever that is) weather and the Sox. Plus they have hope for the future. Next year their fat, bloated contracts to Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, and Pena all come off the books. And that opens things up for them to rebuild and be a player in the NL Central again. But we’re not here to be positive. Go here for that.
Let’s get gloomy.
Carlos Pena- took him long enough to finally hit a home run, still has only 8 RBI. This was worth one year, $10 million? Then again who was going to play first base
Marlon Byrd- why is this guy in the #3 hole? seriously. Don’t expect him to be an All-Star again this year, not by a long shot. Again only 8 RBI so far.
James Russell- Meant to be a reliever, not a starter so his horrible numbers (1-4, 27 hits in 17 innings, 8.15 ERA) are probably best explained by that. But the Cubs need to do something better our of the 5 spot in the rotation.
Ryan Dempster- 8.05 ERA, 1-3, 9 HRs surrendered in 38 innings. Yikes! The Cubs are 14-16, in 4th place. But just 2.5 games out in the Central. Iimagine where they could be if they had anything at all out of the two black hole posts in the rotation.
When in comes to Chicgao weather expertise- Tom Skilling is THE MAN! From his latest blog:
No spring in the past 27 years has logged fewer 70-degree or warmer readings by May 4. The last time 70s were in such short supply was 1984 when only two had occurred by this date. Warm weather enthusiasts may take solace in the fact that the languid pace at which warm temperatures occurred that year proved no reflection on the summer weather which was to follow. The 1984 warm season ended up generating 24 days with temperatures 90-degrees or higher in the city at Midway Airport—23 is average at the South Side site.
What’s been worse is the gloom. I’d hate to live in Pacific Northwest, and these days it seems I do. Our April had 33% of possible. 33%!!!! And I remember right after that monster blizzard hit in February, we had a whopping 8% of our possible sunshine to that point in ’11. But brighter times are ahead. According to Skilling, we may hit 80 on Tuesday! Woo-who! So as bad as things have been here, there’s actually hope.
The White Sox
It’s really sad and disappointing when you consider the heat Chicago brought in the air temperature and on the south side in 2010. Summer (or “shirtless driving season” as I call it) seemed to begin in mid May and lasted until mid October last year. (or so it seemed) In June, the sox became the hottest team in baseball, ripping off a 25-5 stretch. Very few teams put up winning percentages like that over a prolonged period of time.
But this season they went “all in,” adding to a team that had a winning record. It’s more than a marketing slogan it’s an attitude, and description of their off-season spending. Wow did that backfire. Now they have THE WORST winning percentage in all of baseball. Imagine where they’d be if they didn’t go all in? a .125 winning percentage perhaps? Today, they’re 11-21, .344 pct. 10.5 games out, the worst team in baseball.
Let’s take a look at why the Sox fan should “abandon hope, ye who enter here.”
Alex Rios- (.184 BA, .298 SLG, .552 OPS) in a slump which makes up believes he’s a five tool player who just doesn’t get it? Or apply himself. Or he’ll never live up to the hype.
Gordon Beckham (.208 BA, .197 OBP, .437 OPS) may just never be a star. I think we need to except that all those statistical projections for the 8th pick in the 2009 draft (which had his career arc mirroring that of a Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile) will never come to fruition. Yes, he started slow last year, but you can’t get away with not contributing for a whole two months of the season every year.
A.J. Pierzynski and Brent Morel- Neither look like an everyday major league player these days. The former resembles a has-been, and the latter hits like a never-will-be (.187 BA, o HR, 7 RBI). At least one of them isn’t a total defensive liability.
Jake Peavy- Just tell is like it is. Just tell us he’s never coming back so we can get on with our lives and realize this trade was absolute bust for us. Quit moving the goalposts on his rehab timeline.
In the first couple weeks of the season, these guys looked really good. Sure they had a glaring hole at closer, and some fielding issues, but now….they’re a very balanced team, terrible everywhere at every position. Unfortunately, there is little room for hope as they put all their chips in for this year, and mortgaged the future on 2011. They traded away too many of their prospects and I haven’t even discussed the failures of Adam Dunn and Juan Pierre yet.
That would be another thousand words.
He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and FacebookFollow paulmbanks