Pete Rose made a bunch of friends among Ichiro fans with his comments yesterday, so he’s decided to move on to Cubs fans. Here’s the Hit King on Fox Sports Radio talking about the Cubs’ great start and their World Series chances:
The Cubs right now no question have the best team, but I can’t root for a team that hasn’t won since 1907. The Cubs will find a way to screw it up I think. They’ve got a good ball club, probably the best ball club in the league right now. They’re playing like it, but again, they can be pitched to, their pitchers can be hit. It’s just a matter of who’s going to give them a fight at the end of the season, in the playoffs.
The Cubs, are they going to play good all year like last year when they won 97 games and then got swept in the playoffs? We’ll have to wait and see, because in the playoffs, you’re a different animal.
I like to pile on Pete Rose as much as the next guy, but let’s not pretend that’s not a pretty decent take. No, not the “because they haven’t won since 1907” part (it was 1908, but who’s counting?). I think he and a lot of other people put way too much emphasis on history as a predictor of the future when it doesn’t really work like that most of the time. That’s just superstition. No, I mean the “playoffs are a different animal” thing and the idea that even the best teams have flaws.
As we see each year, teams with great offenses can be “pitched to” in the playoffs. Bullpens and defense have become extraordinarily important in the postseason. The Cubs are still messing around with rando bullpen options, because they realize that could be a problem as the season wears on and the weather gets colder. They’re winning a lot now, but they’re not perfect. No team is. Ask the 2001 Mariners.
Rose may be pretty fixated on the Cubs’ century plus of failure, but he’s not wrong about there being no sure things. Also, let’s be honest: half of Cubs fans are probably secretly worrying that they will, in fact, screw this up somehow. That’s part of the essence of being a Cubs fan. If the Cubs win the World Series this year, the club erasing all of those doubts in its fan base will be a huge part of the beauty of the season. Maybe even more so than the triumph would be for its own sake.