70 years ago, the Chicago Cubs won their latest National League pennant.
This isn't news to you, I'm sure. But what is remarkable -- remarkably bad, in fact -- is that since that 1945 N.L. title, a year where the Cubs finished 42 games over .500 at 98-56, they have been 22 games over .500 just six times.
Six. That's not very many, averaging less than once a decade. And that includes now, at 73-51, which hopefully will wind up at more than 22 games over the break-even point.
The 2003 and 2007 Cubs postseason teams never got to 22 games over. 2003 peaked at 15 games over; 2007's high point was just 10 games over.
Here are the other five 22-games-over seasons, when the team first got to 22 games over, and how things ended up. (Badly, in some cases.)
This star-crossed, still-beloved team first hit 22 games over .500 by defeating the Reds 9-8, June 14 at Wrigley Field. They immediately lost six of eight to drop back to 18 games over. They hit 22 over again a couple of times through June and July, finally sticking there at 56-34. A run through August and early September left them at their high point for the year, 84-52, on September 2. You know what happened after that. They remained at least 22 over, though, the rest of the year, finishing exactly at that mark at 92-70.
The famous Lou Boudreau WGN radio cry, "They can kiss the .500 mark goodbye!", came as the Cubs went to 25 games over .500 at 47-22, three days after they had reached 22 over for the first time by rallying from four runs down in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Mets 5-4 and go to 44-22. A four-game losing streak after that 47-22 high point put them back below the 22-over mark and they never again reached that point. It still looked like the Cubs would have their first winning season in four years when they defeated the Phillies 10-7 on September 26 to get to 81-76, but they lost their last five games to finish exactly at .500.
This first Cubs postseason team in 39 years first hit 22 games over .500 after a memorable doubleheader sweep of the Mets at Wrigley Field August 7. They were 67-45, with a 3½-game division lead in the N.L. East. They briefly dropped below that level 10 days later, at 19 games over .500 after a four-game losing streak, but then finished the season 31 games over .500 at 96-65. They had peaked at 32 games over on September 15 (90-58).
This team started slowly, finally attaining first place on August 6, but did not hit 22 games over .500 until defeating the Pirates 4-2 at Wrigley Field September 24, the last regular-season home game. They lost one in Montreal, then won the day after that to clinch the division title. They won their last two games of the season to finish at a season-high 24 games over .500.
With the exception of the 0-1 mark in March, the 2008 Cubs had a winning record in every calendar month (well, until October). It still took them a while until they got to 22 games over .500; they made it there at 67-45 after defeating the Pirates 8-5 at Wrigley Field on August 3. They went on an 18-5 run after that to get to a season-high 85-50, 35 games over .500, and finished 33 games over. The 35 games over .500 is the most games any Cubs team has been over .500 since 1945.
22 games over .500 with 38 games remaining. How high can this year's team go? Vote in the poll.