Constable: This is a good meaningless August for Cubs fans

  • One of the few reasons to watch a late-summer game at Wrigley Field during much of the 1970s, popular Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal steals second base.

    One of the few reasons to watch a late-summer game at Wrigley Field during much of the 1970s, popular Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal steals second base. Daily Herald file photo, 1977

  • As recently as 2013, fans at Wrigley Field had plenty of room to chase down a homer in the bleachers. Now home to the best team in baseball, Wrigley, even during the dog days of August, is drawing about 40,000 fans a game.

    As recently as 2013, fans at Wrigley Field had plenty of room to chase down a homer in the bleachers. Now home to the best team in baseball, Wrigley, even during the dog days of August, is drawing about 40,000 fans a game. Associated Press

  • There have been plenty of Augusts where a Cubs fan could stretch out and catch a nap during a meaningless game at Wrigley Field. This year, the Cubs have such a big lead that the August games don't matter much. But Wrigley is packed.

    There have been plenty of Augusts where a Cubs fan could stretch out and catch a nap during a meaningless game at Wrigley Field. This year, the Cubs have such a big lead that the August games don't matter much. But Wrigley is packed. JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer

  • During the 1970s, when Cubs fans generally knew by August that their team wouldn't win the division, broadcaster Jack Brickhouse often talked about the individual goals of players such as Jose Cardenal. The popular outfielder flirted with a .300 batting average most years and was a fan favorite at Wrigley Field.

    During the 1970s, when Cubs fans generally knew by August that their team wouldn't win the division, broadcaster Jack Brickhouse often talked about the individual goals of players such as Jose Cardenal. The popular outfielder flirted with a .300 batting average most years and was a fan favorite at Wrigley Field. Daily Herald file photo, 1977

 
 
Posted8/11/2016 5:22 AM

The dog days of August used to feature meaningless Cubs games where the outcome didn't matter much to fans.

Win or lose, the Cubs weren't going to be playing postseason baseball.

 

So broadcaster Jack Brickhouse had to create drama: Could Jose Cardenal end the season with a .300 batting average? Is the right-fielder of the future Mike Vail or Scot Thompson? Is it time to give up on the dream of Willie Hernández becoming a closer?

The dog days of this August also feature meaningless Cubs games where the outcome doesn't matter much to fans. Win or lose, the Cubs are going to be playing postseason baseball.

"With fall baseball appearing within reach, we are happy to offer our valued Season Ticket Holders the opportunity to secure seats to the 2016 postseason in advance of the general public," reads a letter sent to season-ticket holders, asking for payment by Sept. 2.

After a century of treating August as the month when the "Wait Until Next Year" laments began in earnest, Cubs fans are plunking down money this August for games in October.

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Given the Cubs' long championship drought since the 1908 season, you might think the Cubs don't have much experience with October baseball. But in those years when the regular-season schedule lingers past September, the Cubs could be considered "Team October."

In all the regular-season games that Chicago has played in October since the inaugural 1876 season, the Cubs have compiled a remarkable 177-129 record. That's good for a .578 winning percentage, which correlates to a regular season of almost 94 wins.

Of course, many of the wins were compiled against good teams that were resting their best players as they geared up for the playoffs and bad teams that were playing untested youngsters to see if they were worthy of making next year's team.

This October, the Cubs will play the hapless Reds in Cincinnati for the final two regular-season games of the year. Unlikely to have an impact on the playoff standings, those games are important only in that they should give the Wrigley Field grounds crew time to pretty-up the Friendly Confines for the postseason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The sample size for the Cubs playing postseason baseball in October is smaller, and jaw-droppingly bad. The Cubs' all-time postseason baseball record is just 28-60. If they played at that .318 winning percentage every regular season, the team would average more than 110 losses a year.

To top .500 in all-time postseason play, the Cubs will need to sweep through the playoffs and a World Series championship with a perfect 11-0 record this season, next season and the season after that.

For seasons when the Cubs were out of the running by August, Cardenal was entertaining a sparse Wrigley Field, which served as a daylong cheap baby sitter for kids before the school year began. This August, fans are filling the place. According to a spokeswoman from the ticket-broker VividSeats.com, tickets for tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals are selling for a median price of $99, with prices for the weekend topping $200 a ticket.

When the Cubs vie to become top dog this October, tickets will be even more expensive.

"Looking at data from last year's Cubs' playoff run, in which the median price for tickets was $760, we are speculating that Cubs playoff prices will be even higher this postseason," the VividSeats spokeswoman says. "The Cubs have had the highest ticket price across MLB all year and many fans will want to be there when the Curse of the Billy Goat finally ends."

Of course, there is always the Cubs Convention, which runs Jan. 13-15, 2017, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. Packages are available now, and daily passes will go on sale soon.

Or, just maybe, October playoffs will become so routine at Wrigley that fans will be able to find plenty of tickets at Wrigley Field during the dog days of August 2021.

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