CHICAGO -- You might see a headline or two highlighting the fact the Chicago Cubs lost their 50th home game of the season on Tuesday night when they dropped an 8-2 decision to the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs snuck No. 50 in just under the wire as they’ll close out another dreadful season at home on Wednesday afternoon.
Fifty home losses is unheard of, even for the Cubs. But at the end of the day, does it really matter as anything more than another punch line?
The answer is no, it’s not a big deal, because this is all by design.
The Cubs didn’t set out to lose 50 games at Wrigley Field, but they can’t be surprised that it happened. Not when they’re trading away their roster midseason, and not when they're in a total rebuilding of the organization. This isn’t a retooling or a quasi-rebuild. This is a full-on, from-top-to-bottom job. But that’s something you know, just maybe something you’ve forgotten.
“To lose that many games at home, it’s something you have to stay away from,” manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday night. “This year has been tough. We seem to do more things on the road this year than at home.”
When you’re a bad team, bad things are going to happen. Things that are hard to predict or understand. Sometimes, they’ll happen more at home, like Tuesday when Nate Schierholtz seemingly forgot Dioner Navarro was on base ahead of him and practically ran into him at second before being tagged out. Bad things happen to bad teams. This season, it just happened more at home.
“Last year, we struggled on the road and had some success at home,” pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. “This year has been flip-flopped. We’ve had a lot of close games. We needed to pull out more than we have.”
They didn’t win more because they aren’t very good. Give credit to the players. They’ll never use rebuilding as an excuse or the fact that, two seasons in a row, major players from the roster have been shipped out midseason. If the Cubs were so hell-bent on avoiding 50 losses at home, they would have kept Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano, or would have never had Carlos Marmol closing games while trying to raise his trade value early this season. The list goes on and on.
Here’s the point: The Cubs of yesteryear were striving to win but usually came up short. The Cubs of today are striving to win in a few years, so coming up short now -- in whatever form -- shouldn’t get your blood boiling. Though past teams never lost 50 at home, they were a bigger disgrace.
Read it again to be sure: This is by design.
“It’s not how I look at it,” second baseman Darwin Barney said. “We are who we are. We still take pride in our work every day. It’s been a tough season. I don’t think we need to remind anybody of anything along those lines.”
Again, that’s admirable. Barney and his teammates could remind everyone how little the front office has given them in the form of help, but if they want to hold their heads up high, all the power to them.
But the rest of them know the real deal. Agree or disagree with the strategy, but everyone understands what’s happening. In a strip-it-all-down rebuilding process, the surprise would be if the Cubs didn’t hit historically bad lows. It just means the highs have to be around the corner and take fans where they’ve never been before.