Friday, October 9, 2009

And the winner is ...

Well, the season's over. Let's see, something positive to say ...

Ah, I got it: It wasn't a June swoon that cost the Cubs!

Unfortunately, it was an August one that did them in. While the Cardinals got as hot as the color of their jerseys, the Cubs struggled and stumbled and sank to second place on their way to a disappointing 83-78 season.

Given the expectations, the injuries, the horrific fundamentals, the apparent lack of passion, and the fact that the Cubs never really put together any real good stretches save when they beat up on the Nationals and Reds right after the All-Star break, this was one of the least enjoyable Cubs seasons I can recall. Again, I factor expectations into the equation h
ere. Sure, Cubs fans always look forward to each season with rose-colored glasses, but deep down, we often know it ain't gonna happen. This year, everyone just knew it was going to happen. So, wha' happened?

What happened is that Soriano batted 37 points below his career average and had just 55 RBI. What happened is that Geovany Soto had a sophomore slump that Van Wilder would be pr
oud of. What happened was that Zambrano and Dempster combined to win 11 fewer games than they did in 2008. What happened was that Aaron Miles was one of Lou's first options off the bench.

But you know all this already. What you don't know is how Trevor Sierra, Andrew Kapral and I did in our annual prediction challenge. And I know you're on the edge of your seat with anticipation.

But first, one more note about the 2009 season: Last Thursday's rainout resulted in the Cubs playing fewer than 162 games for the second straight season.
The last time the Cubs went back-to-back seasons without playing 162 games was from 1984-87, when they played 161, 161, 160, and 161 games, respectively. The Cubs also played just 160 games in 1991, and played an extra game in 1998 due to the play-in game versus the Giants.

And now, the results you've been waiting for ever since 12 seconds ago when you read the paragraph that indicated I was about to share with you the results of our annual prediction challenge:

Cubs wins

Brandon 92
Trevor 89
Andrew 90

Actual: 83

All three of us correctly assumed that the Cubs wouldn't be able to match their gaudy win total from 2008. We did not assume, however, that they would tread water most of the season and finish just a touch above .500. Andrew is notorious for being pessimistic in our challenge, but this year it was Trevor's dire outlook on life and general hatred of all things Cubs that got him a win in the biggest category of all. I hope you're happy, Trevor. By the way, all three of us picked the Cubs to win the Central, but with the Cardinals having won 91 games, only my predicted total would have resulted in a division title. So I have no choice but to assign additional blame to Andrew for the Cubs' disappointing season. I don't know how you guys sleep at night.

Zambrano wins
Brandon 17
Trevor 17
Andrew 19

Actual: 9

It's almost as if Andrew underwent some sort of significant, life-changing experience that made him more optimistic. Perhaps around, say, April 4 of this year? Well, that optimism is admirable and should generally be applauded, but for the purposes of this prediction challenge, it's really biting him in the ass. Trevor and I split this one despite our stunningly inaccurate prediction of 17 wins.

Fukudome average
Brandon .274
Trevor .271
Andrew .280

Actual: .259

Remember how at the end of last year we all said the Cubs had overpaid for Fukudome? That he was just an average player despite his $12 million salary? Well, we're all eating our words now--Fukudome raised his average two whole points this year! And ... wait for it ... he hit one more home run! Way to go, Kosuke! Trevor wins again on account of his xenophobia and attendant hatred of Asian people.

Gregg saves
Brandon 31
Trevor 29
Andrew 23

Actual: 23

Gotta hand it to Andrew on this one. We'll never know if he thought the Cubs would win a lot of blowouts and therefore deflate Gregg's save total, or if he looked into his crystal ball and saw a glimpse of Gregg being demoted in favor of Carlos Marmol. Either way, he nailed it.

Soto home runs
Brandon 29
Trevor 27
Andrew 24

Actual: 11

Um, what the hell? We all predicted Soto would hit at least twice the number of home runs that he did. Eleven? Seriously? You know who hit more than 11 home runs? Will Venable. Sorry, not familiar? How about Laynce Nix? That guy doesn't even know how to spell his name! Neither does Jonny Gomes, but he outhomered Soto too. Did you have the legendary Miguel Montero on your fantasy team? More home runs than Soto. You get the point. Andrew takes this sorry excuse for a category.

Marshall wins
Brandon 12
Trevor 12
Andrew 10

Actual: 3

If the last one was a sorry excuse for a category, what does that make this one? We all had Marshall ticketed for a strong season as the fifth starter, but he went to the 'pen and Randy Wells put the fifth starter spot on lockdown. Of pitchers who threw at least 60 innings for the Cubs, only Carlos Marmol had fewer wins (2) than Marshall. What was I saying about Andrew and his newfound optimism? The optimism tank was apparently emptied right about halfway through his 2009 predictions.

Team double plays turned
Brandon 149
Trevor 128
Andrew 128

Actual: 144

With a few games to go, I thought I might actually nail this prediction exactly. But the Cubs didn't turn any twin killings in their last two games, and the rainout took away another game. This could have gone down as the greatest prediction in the history of sports ... but no. Still, thank God for this category; it stands as my only solo victory on the year.

Final tally:

Trevor: 3
Andrew: 3
Brandon: 2

We also predicted the final NL Central standings, but that doesn't solve matters as all three of us flipped the Cubs and Cardinals and then accurately predicted two other teams while flip-flopping two others. Oh well, a tie it is!

Congratulations to Trevor and Andrew on their Debbie Downer, tag team effort as they double-handedly ruined the Cubs season for reasons that are not readily apparent to me. Congratulations to all others who participated (me), and best of luck next year!


  1. Why would Trevor and Andrew ruin their season? That's just not right ... but now I know who to blame. Thanks a lot, guys.

  2. I think the real problem here is that the Cubs collapsed under the weight of your impossible expectations. Why can't you just accept the Cubs for who they are???

  3. Aaron Miles is one of the best utlity players in basebll, but he has to be used. The more he plays the better he is. At 5'8" he is nt seen as an automatic starter. He is a Pete Rose type of hustler who can hit, run, and score.

  4. Well, since you put it that way .... OK. :) (Sherry)

  5. Aaron Miles .. really? I don't think so, but that's just me.

  6. I thought that was Trevor with a "Horry Kow!" shirt. Thanks for confirming it.