The Cubs Have A Curse; Do They Need An Omen?

Cubs’ fans are a sub-species all to themselves. Given the certainty that they will not win the World Series this year, the Chicago Cubs will have gone 104 years without a championship. The fans there need to console themselves by finding a way to attribute “blame” for this singular lack of success to something outside themselves or the team. Enter the Curse of the Billy Goat which is a cute story but fails to explain approximately the first 40 years of this losing streak. I would like to suggest that the 2012 season might provide a way to shock the fans back to a semblance of reality. [I doubt anyone associated with the team needs a reality dose…]

In the history of the Cubs’ franchise – - remember, they were around under a different name at the time that the National League started up – - the team has never lost more than 103 games in a season. The 2012 team is a noxious lot; might they be able to lose 104 games this year in the 104th season without a World Series title? Forget sacrificing goats to exorcise a curse; it would be highly illegal to start sacrificing mathematicians to remove a curse; maybe Cubs’ fans would see the dawn of reality – - that franchise is a mess! On the other hand, maybe the believers in curses would see that as such a bad omen that they would stay in bed under the covers for a month.

It is good to be able to report that Tommy LaSorda seems to be doing fine after having to spend a week or so in a hospital with what was reported as a “minor heart attack”. Reading those reports reminded me of a truism:

    A minor heart attack is one that happens to someone else.

Last weekend, the Oakland A’s released Manny Ramirez; he is a free agent. With Manny’s suspension up and with his “rehab assignment” in Sacramento progressing, Manny wanted back in the major leagues. The A’s saw things differently and Manny asked for his release. Ramirez hit .302 for Sacramento but it seemed as if his power was seriously down. He had no home runs and only three extra base hits at the AAA level in about 70 plate appearances. Part of the statement from Ramirez’ agent reveals the way the A’s viewed his ability to contribute to the major league club:

“Manny believes he has demonstrated that he is ready to return to the Major
Leagues. However, given that the Oakland Athletics could not give Manny any
assurance that they plan to promote him in the immediate future he asked for his
release. Manny thanks the A’s for providing him with this opportunity.”

Chase Utley has been a premier player at second base for the Phillies for a half-dozen years but he has not played even an inning this year trying to recover from chronic problems in both knees. He started a “rehab assignment” with the Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League – - a Class A affiliate of the Phillies. Utley was the DH for the team for a few games and started his first game at second base yesterday. He played 6 innings of the game before being replaced.

Class A baseball is a long way from the major leagues where Utley has been an All-Star five times. The conditions in his knees (both of them) and in his hip are chronic and include patellar tendinitis, cartilage damage and something called chondromalacia. I did not spend any time in medical school, but none of those things sounds like fun. This rehab process may take a bit of time…

Since I am on the subject of baseball today, let me make a suggestion to the folks who run the game. The unbalanced schedule – - teams in the same division do not play the same opponents over the course of a season – - is something that needs fixing. And with the transfer of Houston to the AL next year giving both leagues 15 teams, the math works out for a balanced schedule. MLB needs to adopt a bit of the scheduling philosophy of the NFL…

With three divisions of five teams in each league and a 162 game schedule here is a formula for baseball scheduling that is balanced and predictable:

    Each team will play the other four teams in its division 18 times. That accounts for 72 games.

    Each team will play the other ten teams in their league (the two other divisions) 6 times. That means a 3-game home-and-home series with every other team in the league every year. That accounts for 60 games.

    Each team will play 30 Interleague games each year. That will fill out the 162-game schedule and here is how that scheduling can work. For example:

      The NL East teams would play a single 3-game series against ten teams in the AL in Year 1. They would play each of the five teams in the AL East and AL Central.

      In Year 2, the NL East would play against each of the five teams in the AL Central and the AL West.

      In Year 3, against each of the teams in the AL West and the AL East. And so on…

At least this idea provides balance – - and a measure of predictability – - to the MLB schedule which are two things that are lacking under the current hodgepodge scheduling that exists. This suggestion is provided to the Commish gratis

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s column in the Seattle Times last weekend:

“ ‘Saturday was Madrid’s annual Naked Bicycle Ride day,’ noted comedy writer Alex Kaseberg. ‘And Sunday was the annual Don’t Buy a Used Bike in Madrid day.’ “

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Tenacious P  On June 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    The mathematics of a baseball schedule: if everyone listened to SC, the world would be a better place.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On June 21, 2012 at 9:35 am


      I can’t even get my kids to listen to me – - let alone everyone. I mailed a letter to Commish Selig with my “math evaluation” of an improved MLB schedule. I shall not hold my breath until I get a response…

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