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updated: 5/14/2017 6:39 PM

Imrem: No surprise this year isn't last year for Chicago Cubs

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  • St. Louis Cardinals' Kolten Wong, left, congratulates teammate Matt Carpenter, right, after Carpenter hit a two-run home run off Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 14, 2017, in St. Louis.

    St. Louis Cardinals' Kolten Wong, left, congratulates teammate Matt Carpenter, right, after Carpenter hit a two-run home run off Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 14, 2017, in St. Louis.

 
 

Those sirens blaring in the background represent concern over the Chicago Cubs.

Yes, even though the champagne is barely dry and the confetti barely swept.

Actually, maybe precisely because the champagne is barely dry and the confetti barely swept.

If anything is funny about the Cubs' current slump, it's that some people are suggesting that it's too early to panic.

These are the Cubs, the Cubs are a Chicago sports team, and it's never too early to panic over a Chicago sports team.

Never mind that the Cubs are more talented than any team in major-league baseball.

Alarms still are blaring. It's only natural even though last year the Cubs won their first World Series championship since 1908.

One season doesn't erase the scars of 108 years of sustained frustration.

There's always the fear that the Cubs won't win another title until 2124.

Look, I'm willing to admit that I was just a little off in my projection for the Cubs this season.

Not wrong.

Just a little off.

I predicted the Cubs would finish the regular season with a 125-37 record.

Still could. All the Cubs would have to do is go 107-18 over their final 125 games.

Do the math -- please don't trust me to -- and it seems the Cubs are under .500 today at 18-19.

How embarrassing it must be to be at the same number in relation to par as the White Sox, who aren't even trying to win this year.

The Cubs haven't been under .500 this late since the middle of 2015. They were 27-10 after 37 games in 2016. They weren't out of first place after April 9 last year.

Welcome to 2017, fellas.

The Cubs began this season as odds-on favorites to not only win the NL Central, but the entire NL and the World Series.

The oddsmakers still might be proved correct, but it's already clear that this season isn't last season.

All we have to do to realize the difference is glance at the injured list.

Over the weekend the Cubs lost two of three games at St. Louis -- including 5-0 Sunday -- with key players ailing.

Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, Jon Jay, Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist all missed some time during the series.

Other than Kyle Schwarber missing all but two games of 2016's regular season, very few of his teammates missed much time due to injury.

(Schwarber returned to have a terrific World Series and was supposed to build on that but is hitting .179.)

Injuries and illnesses are just a few examples of how current seasons are almost always different from previous seasons.

Another is the competition in the NL Central. This year those dreaded Cardinals appear to be those dreaded Cardinals again.

The Cards are playing with a similar joyful swagger that the Cubs demonstrated last year.

One reason given for not panicking is the division isn't any good, but St. Louis is indicating it's always risky to depend on the generosity of others.

Logic still says the Cubs will prevail because they're better than the rest of the league.

That's what the backs of their baseball cards say, anyway. The problem is the backs of baseball cards can lie.

As of today, Anthony Rizzo is batting .213, Addison Russell .226 and Javier Baez .236, while Jake Arrieta's earned-run average is 5.44.

Too early to panic?

Sorry, no, not with those sirens blaring.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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