ST. LOUIS — The good news about the Cubs is their season has been a nearly half-year-long party, their magic number in the N.L. Central is down to three and they’re easily on track to give the club its first 100-victory campaign since — wait for it — 1935.
The bad news is some lesser team is going to win the World Series.
What a bummer.
OK, so it’s theoretically possible the Cubs could keep the party going all the way into November and take down the trophy. But that sure would be unusual for a 100-win team in the 2000s — only one of which, the 2009 Yankees, managed to win it all.
There have been fifteen 100-game winners this century, spanning from the spectacular 116-win Mariners in 2001 to the 100-win Cardinals in 2015. As a group, their postseason track record has been nothing less than terrible. Nine of those teams were knocked out in the divisional round, three went down in league championship series, and only two (not counting the ’09 Yankees) — the ’03 Yanks and the ’04 Cardinals — made it as far as the World Series before bowing out.
“I’ve been on two 100-win teams and we’ve lost in the first round both times,” said Cubs pitcher John Lackey, referring to the 2008 Angels and last year’s Cardinals. “You never know. It takes a lot to win a World Series.”
There’s going to be a lot of that kind of talk from here on out, not only from the Cubs but also from the wild-card hopefuls in San Francisco, New York and St. Louis. It sounds trite to say the only thing that matters is getting into the postseason tournament and that from there anything is possible. The thing is, it’s undeniably true.
Again, the whole 1-for-15 thing.
“I guess it just goes to show you it doesn’t matter what you do during the regular season,” said third baseman Kris Bryant.
And that’s a potential MVP talking. And here some of us thought Bryant’s regular season mattered a whole lot.
The Cardinals have been buried deep in the Cubs’ rearview for most of the season — a vintage St. Louis team, this is not — yet they’re just crazy enough to believe they’ve got a shot to get past the Cubs if they can outbattle the Giants and Mets first.
Because it’s, you know, true.
And it has happened before, at least the St. Louis half of the equation.
An 83-win Cardinals team — essentially, division champs by default — won the World Series in 2006. The 90-win wild card Cardinals pulled off the same feat in 2011.
“You have good teams that, statistically, should run over another team just on paper,” said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, “but in the postseason you just throw it all out the window.”
Is it really no advantage at all to win in triple digits?
“I don’t see how there’ll be any competitive advantage,” said Matheny. “The [lesser] teams have had to fight and fight and fight. They’ve got their necks bowed already. They’re in survivor mode.”
Man, it’s never easy. That’s life in the soon-to-be triple digits for you.
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100-WIN TEAMS IN THE 2000s
- 2015 Cardinals (100 wins; lost in NLDS)
- 2011 Phillies (102; lost in NLDS)
- 2009 Yankees (103; won World Series)
- 2008 Angels (100; lost in ALDS)
- 2005 Cardinals (100; lost in NLCS)
- 2004 Yankees (101; lost in ALCS)
- 2004 Cardinals (105; lost World Series)
- 2003 Giants (100; lost in NLDS)
- 2003 Braves (101; lost in NLDS)
- 2003 Yankees (101; lost World Series)
- 2002 Braves (101; lost in NLDS)
- 2002 A’s (103; lost in ALDS)
- 2002 Yankees (103; lost in ALDS)
- 2001 A’s (102; lost in ALDS)
- 2001 Mariners (116; lost in ALCS)