There have been a lot of things to discuss recently, but nary any time to discuss them. I desperately wanted to point out the unfair treatment given to Obama’s “bitter” remark. I don’t think he meant to apply it universally to the lower socio-economic class, but growing up in and among the American proletariat I can personally attest to accuracy of his claim on a somewhat limited scope.
I also thought the criticism given to Bush for planning on attending the opening ceremonies of the Olympics was quite unfair. I certainly think the U.S. should take a hard line against China’s treatment of workers and their citizens in general, but the Olympics isn’t exactly the best forum to do so. Both parties have supported trade agreements with China which not only allowed, but actually enabled, such violations of human rights, and for either party to insist on such a meaningless protest while refusing to discuss foreign policy which would actually change the situation is damn hypocritical.
McCain said some stupid things, Hillary Clinton is complaining about Obama complaining about the media after she has spent the better part of twenty years doing the same, and Jerry Angelo decided that the best way to cure da Bear’s ills is to swap out their best offensive player for a couple of average receivers and take a hard line on their best player since Walter Payton (pay the Lurch! This isn’t rocket science, just pay the guy! He’s Brian freakin’ Urlacher for cryin’ out loud!!)
But today I have something much grander to discuss. Forget the fluttering importance of something as trivial as the Presidential election, something truly historic has just occurred.
The Chicago Cubs have won their 10,000th game.
The Cubs won their 10,000th game in the same city they won their 9,000th, Denver Colorado, in a 10th inning (one for every thousand wins) affair against the Rockies.
Nobody said it would be easy.
Fittingly, Kerry Wood, the Cubs most storied and tenured player, was the victor. Typical of his ebb-and-flow career, he was awarded that distinction only because he blew the save in the bottom of the ninth inning. But he is on my fantasy team so it worked out fairly well for me.
Despite their loveable loser label, the Cubs are actually the only team in the major leagues to never have a franchise record below .500. That is to say, the Cubs are the only team in the major leagues to have a winning record throughout their entire existence. Their first victory was in 1876 against Louisville (?), and they went on to win the first League Championship. They become only the second team to reach 10,000 victories, behind the New York/San Francisco Giants. The Giants have won 119 more games than the Cubs, but the Cubs are pretty good this year and the Giants are terrible, so we may catch up to them eventually.
The only team to lose 10,000 games is the Philadelphia Phillies. Jon Lieber, who gave up a home run which almost cost the Cubs the game today, was also part of the Phillies team to carry that dubious distinction.
The history does not stop there, either. It was Lou Pinella’s 100th win with the Cubbies, which isn’t really extraordinary but the roundness of the number is interesting. But it did give Lou Pinella his 1,619th career win as a manager, moving him into a tie with Ralph Houk for 14th all-time.
The Cubs just won their 15th game of the season, placing their record at a solid 15-6. Since 1908, this is only the fourth time they’ve started that well. The other years were 1937 (went to the World Series), 1969 (lost the pennant to the Miracle Mets, but came close) and 1975 (terrible record that year). Today was the sixth victory in a row, and the previous four were not even close. They won all the games by at least six runs, and the last time they won four games in a row by at least six runs was . . . 1886. 122 years ago.
It happened exactly one week before the 25th anniversary of Lee Elia’s famous rant against Cubs fans, which I mention only because the rant is kinda funny, even if it is extremely offensive (“85% of the world’s working, the other fifteen come out here!”)
Of course, it’s been 100 years since our last World Series victory, which is about the only stat most people know. It’s also the stat they point to when they make their firm proclamation that the Cubs will surely suck, because they always do. (People don’t seem to care they won the division last year, or went to the playoffs three times in the last ten years, which is pretty respectable in baseball. But on the flip side, most people who stake that claim don’t actually know a lot about the game.)
Here’s hoping the Cubs end that little piece of history this October.
On the same date the Cubs won their 10,000th franchise victory, Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death, George Washington moved into the first executive mansion (in New York), the U.S. Army Reserve was created, James Earl Ray and Boris Yeltsin died, Hank Aaron hit his first major league home run, and “Sticky Fingers” was released, featuring a real, working zipper on the album cover (Mick Jagger was wearing underwear). People born on April 23 included William Shakespeare, Sir William Penn, Max Planck, James Buchanan, Stephen Douglas, and Michael Moore.