Growing up a Chicago Cubs’ fan in south central Wisconsin, I often had many disputes with my friends about which was the better team; the Cubs or the Milwaukee Brewers. Naturally, I was always outnumbered and I therefore received a great deal of ridicule for being a fan of a team that hadn’t won a World Series in what has become 105 years – pending the result of this season’s World Series, of course.
Admittedly, I became a Cubs’ fan as a result of their magical run in the 2003 playoffs – what some people might call bandwagon-jumping – but I would like to think that I truly became a fan of the Lovable Losers as a result of the Cubs doing exactly what their nickname entails in the 2003 NLCS.
But even if my fandom was forged by the Cubs’ graceful tumble from hero to zero in typical Cubs fashion, the fact is: losing gets old.
Sure, the Brewers have been to more World Series since they became an expansion team in 1969 (one in 1982), and are a much younger franchise than the Cubs – who are the second oldest franchise in all of Major League Baseball. But regardless of the outward differences between the two teams, the two franchises are more similar than they are different.
The Cubs are known for being good for the first month or so of the season and then magically becoming a completely different team and winding up in the cellar of the National League. On the other hand, the Brewers typically make it a little bit further in the season, somewhere around late July or early August, before deciding to call it quits for the season and trying to mount a collapse of their own.
However, the two teams’ similarities do not just lie in their inabilities to play well in the second half of the season.
Since the Brewers became part of the National League Central in 1998, they have finished in last place or second-to-last place five times, while the Cubs have done the same seven times. Also in those 15 years, the two teams have finished within two places of each other 10 times. And in only two seasons have the Cubs and Brewers finished more than three places apart.
Taking into mind that the two have only made the playoffs a combined six times since the Brewers joined the NL, it seems as if both franchises – not just the Cubs – have a tendency toward a lack of success.
But with the start of spring and a new year for both teams came the hopes for better seasons than the past. Unfortunately, those hopes for the Brewers and Cubs may have already been dashed just eight games into the 2013 campaign.
The Cubs and Brewers both sat at 2-5 before last night’s game. So for yet another season, it would appear both franchises will finish similarly in the National League race, and yet again they will be finishing near the bottom.
It may be a tad early to already have made a forgone conclusion about the upcoming season, but based on their starts, it appears neither team has anything special.
The toughest pill for both squads to swallow has been the pitching performances from their closers. John Axford for the Brewers and Carlos Marmol for the Cubs have both struggled mightily in getting the final three outs of the game. The two have very similar statistics to open the season. Axford is 0-1, has blown a save, and his earned run average is 20.25, giving up six runs in 2.2 innings. Marmol is also 0-1 with a blown save, and more importantly has an ERA of 16.88, yielding 5 runs in 2.2 innings.
Even beyond the less than spectacular play of the two closers, neither team really seems to possess a great amount of talent or anything that would lead the belief that either will be wildly successful this season.
So the two franchises have been characteristically bad and I may have already given up on the Cubs for this season, but the question remains: Why have they both been so mediocre for so long?
If there was an answer to that question, both teams would have World Series rings right now, and I wouldn’t be asking that question.
But for the Cubs it’s a combination of bad moves, maybe some bad luck, and probably more than a fair share of the losing attitude – not just a curse. As for the Brewers, it has been an issue of not having enough money, and just when things start to go the right way, the key players (Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia come to mind) are whisked away by richer teams.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have started to become a team trying to move out of the cellar, and the Houston Astros have vacated their NL basement of last few years for the comfort of the AL’s cellar, most likely. It raises the question: When will the Brewers or Cubs start winning?
Dan Corcoran is a freshman majoring in something; he just hasn’t decided yet. Think the Brew Crew or Cubbies have a chance to win this year? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.