clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cubs’ dismay away isn’t sign of doomsday

Just look at the 1987 Twins, who won the World Series with a worse road record. Plus, the 2008 Rays reached the Series under Joe Maddon.

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Cubs manager Joe Maddon led the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series in 2008 with a losing record on the road.
David Banks/Getty Images

The Cubs to a man are at a loss to explain how they’ve spent almost an entire season as one of the majors’ best home teams and one of the worst on the road.

“If [we] knew why, [we’d] fix it immediately, and we’d be a much better team on the road,” three-time World Series champion Jon Lester said.

But as Anthony Rizzo said, as long as they win the division by a game, it doesn’t matter to them if they win out at home and lose out on the road.

But does it? Should it?

“The team that provides hope is the ’73 Mets,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Actually, not so much. The Mets were a famously pedestrian 82-79 before making the World Series that year, but they were only slightly worse on the road (39-41) than at home (43-38). They got hot late, going 29-13 after Aug. 17 in a bad division to rocket from last to first.

If the Cubs are looking to history for hope, they should look at the 1987 Twins, the only team in history to reach a World Series with a road record (.358) as bad as the Cubs have this year (.391) with 17 away games left.

The next-worst road team to reach the World Series: the 2006 Cardinals (.420 road percentage).

Both of those teams won it.

That Twins team got a big assist in the World Series by the alternating system for home-field advantage at the time. It was the American League’s turn. And it became the first World Series in which the home team won every game.

The Cubs likely would be the road team in every postseason series they play if they make it this year.

Two more reasons for hope:

• Maddon is one of only two active managers to lead a team to the World Series after having a losing road season, with the 2008 Rays (also Clint Hurdle with the 2007 Rockies).

• The Cubs twice reached the postseason with losing road records: in 1998 and 1932.

But neither of those Cubs teams won a postseason game.

HIDDEN FIGURES

2.96

Cubs starter Jose Quintana’s ERA in his last nine starts, which followed a nine-game winless streak — and began the day after he pretended to order a pizza on the bullpen phone in Cincinnati in June. He’s 7-0 during that stretch.

4

Cubs with 25 home runs, most in the majors through Wednesday (Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber). It’s only the second time in franchise history they have had four (also in 2004 with Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Moises Alou, Sammy Sosa).

1

Postseason games the Mets have won since sweeping the Cubs in the 2015 NLCS — compared to 15 for the Cubs. Both teams are in contention as they meet in New York starting Tuesday.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward has missed the playoffs only twice in his nine previous big-league seasons and has played on only one losing team (2014 Braves), averaging 93 wins a year. But he didn’t win a postseason series until signing with the Cubs.

• The Cubs have finished with a winning overall record despite having a losing record on the road 27 times since 1876. But their current .391 road winning percentage (17 road games left) would be the worst in franchise history for a winning team (.400 on road in 1933 despite 86-68 overall mark).

THAT’S WHAT HE SAID

“I didn’t know that. That’s great. Great to know that the kids follow me; they want to do the things I do. I have fun out there. That’s my advice to every kid out there. To practice and have fun out there.”

Shortstop Javy Baez, on being voted favorite major-leaguer by Little League players at the Little League World Series

“I have never done anything really well uptight in my life. And I don’t think a baseball player can, either, especially if you play every day.”

Manager Joe Maddon, on the value of not pressing

“Why is today not Opening Day? … If what has happened is a memory, and what’s going to happen is a thought, then you’re taking yourself out of right now. So in that case, every day is Opening Day.”

Outfielder Nick Castellanos