First, before you remind me we're not precisely halfway through the Cubs' 2015 season, I am writing this today because there's a doubleheader Tuesday and I didn't think there would be enough time to squeeze this post in Tuesday morning in between Monday night's recap, Heroes & Goats, and the Tuesday afternoon game preview.
So, you are getting this "halfway" look at the 2015 Cubs one game short of the exact midpoint of the season, which will come after tonight's game against the Cardinals.
Still, by any measure this season has to be viewed as a success, so far. The Cubs stand 44-36 going into Monday night's contest. It's the first time they will be over .500 after 81 games since 2009, when they were 41-40, and the most games they've won in the season's first half since 2008, when they were 49-32 after 81 games.
Here's the Cubs' record after 81 games over the 15 seasons before 2015.
2000: 33-48 2001: 48-33 2002: 33-48 2003: 42-39 2004: 46-35 2005: 40-41 2006: 30-51 2007: 41-40 2008: 49-32 2009: 41-40 2010: 35-46 2011: 33-48 2012: 31-50 2013: 35-46 2014: 35-46
A lot of whipsawing up and down there, mostly down. Six winning records, nine losing marks.
Clearly, this year's team is better than any of its five immediate predecessors, and with the schedule supposedly getting "easier" in the season's second half, with seven games left against the Phillies, six vs. the White Sox and 10 against the slumping Reds, things could even get better. (Yes, I am well aware that the 2015 Cubs, at times, have played down to the level of their opposition and have struggled occasionally against teams with worse records.)
If the Cubs win Monday night's game against the Cardinals they will be 45-36, on pace to win exactly 90 games. At the very least that ought to keep them in serious wild-card contention, if not get them a spot in the one-and-done game. Last year's wild-card teams won 89 (Royals), 88 (Athletics), 88 (Pirates) and 88 (Giants) games. In 2013 it took a few more wins: 94 (Pirates), 92 (Rays), 92 (Indians) and 90 (Reds).
How will the Cubs wind up 2015? Vote in the poll, weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.