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The Cubs dropped their 100th game of 2012 to a team worse than they are in this year's standings. Somehow, that seems completely appropriate.
It occurred to me during the Cubs' 3-0 loss to the Astros, their 100th defeat of 2012, that you'd have to be about my age to have clear memories of the last Cubs 100-loss season (1966), and that at least 90 percent of the "crowd" in attendance probably had not been born when that 46-years-ago team suffered its 100th defeat.
I say "crowd" because maybe 11,000 of the 32,167 announced were actually in Wrigley Field to see this little bit of history go in the books.
About the game itself, there isn't much to say. Houston's Fernando Martinez crushed a colossal home run onto Sheffield leading off the second inning, and we might as well have all gone home and watched the Bears beat the Cowboys right then, because the Cubs' offense looked like it was thinking about doing just that all night.
David DeJesus led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, went to second on a groundout, and was wild-pitched to third base. After the wild pitch, Alfonso Soriano walked. Anthony Rizzo doubled leading off the fourth, and also advanced on a groundout.
If you are waiting for further descriptions of Cubs hitting, or baserunning, or scoring, you will have to wait until at least Tuesday night, because the paragraph above was it. Houston's Lucas Harrell -- a pretty good pitcher -- and three Houston relievers faced just those three batters over the minimum, retiring everyone else. Apart from the two hits, just three other Cubs hit baseballs out of the infield. It was rare enough Monday night that we should pause to note those events: DeJesus flied to left in the third, Darwin Barney to right in the fifth and Starlin Castro also lofted a harmless out to right in the seventh. Cubs hitters struck out 11 times.
As badly as the Houstons have played in 2012, that was their third win by shutout in their last five games. They have won eight games by shutout this year; the Cubs, by comparison, have nine such games.
As I noted in the preview for this game, someday Jason Berken will be one of three answers to a trivia question: Who were the losing pitchers in the Cubs' 100th defeat in their triple-digit loss seasons? (The others, in case you want to win a bar bet someday, are Rich Nye in 1966 and Jim Brewer in 1962.) We have, I trust, seen Mr. Berken's final appearance in Cubs blue pinstripes. Hope they give him one of the jerseys as a memento. In case you didn't recognize him -- and few Cubs fans would -- that's his open-mouthed visage at the top of this post, a pose that I believe quite well sums up the awfulness of 2012.
And now, you have witnessed history that was 46 years in the making. The 1966 team had some similarities to this year's; it was under new management in the form of Leo Durocher. Though front-office management had not changed, Durocher had considerable influence, much more than a field manager today would have. He famously said when hired in October 1965, "This isn't an eighth-place team." He was, of course, correct in both fact and meaning. The 1966 Cubs finished 10th. But Durocher meant that it was too talented a team to finish that low in the standings; the next year they finished third in a 10-team league, on their way to what all of you know: seven years of contention, followed each year by heartbreak, as a team led by four future Hall of Famers fell short each time.
This year's bunch probably doesn't have any future Hall of Famers, but at least two of its rank, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, have the potential to be perennial Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney, could be solid contributors to winning teams in the future, if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer surround them with good enough talent in years to come.. A handful of other players, including
So remember this day, and what happened Monday, October 1, 2012. Years from now, you might view it as a badge of honor, and a turning point.