Cub fans, plan for the worst

By Kevin Olsen

If you are a Cubs fan, you may not want to read this. However, if you are smart (I know, pretty contradicting) then you may want to continue onward so your inflated hopes will not blow up in your face once the playoffs begin. So as a Sox fan with a Brewers bias, having been born in Milwaukee, I will say it as clearly as I can: This is not the Cubs’ year.

As much as it pains me, I am very close to conceding the fact that the Cubs will indeed make the playoffs. It would not surprise me if they could still manage to blow it this last week, but maybe, just maybe, the Cubs won’t have that bad luck on their side this time around. But Cubs fans need to realize making the playoffs is not the same as winning the World Series. Sure, it sounds simple enough to understand, but just because the Cubs are going to win the miserable NL Central, all the Cubs fans are thinking this is going to be their year to break the curse. All I’m trying to do is assist you in rejecting this incorrect notion. And trust me, I would much rather write about a miraculous Brewers comeback, but I have decided to spare myself that belief.

There are still three other teams in the playoffs the Cubs need to worry about – three BETTER teams. And, oh yeah, there is the American League, as well. Four more teams the Cubs have no prayer of beating in the postseason.

But let’s take a look at the opponents the Cubs would have to face in October. They will probably not know who they will go up against in the first round until the last day of the season due to the tight Wild Card race between the Padres, Phillies and Rockies. But they will definitely have to go on the road either to New York or Arizona, two teams they have not fared well against this season.

The Cubs are 2-4 against Arizona and 2-5 against the Mets during the regular season. Also, the Mets have that one word that always creeps into postseason discussion: experience. They are loaded on offense, have one of the best closers in the game and their starting pitching has not been as bad as expected. Tom Glavine is having a great year, Pedro Martinez is back in the rotation and “El Duque” always seems to have some October magic in store to go with John Maine and the surprising Oliver Perez, should they need them. The Diamondbacks sure do not look like a sexy team, but they have been getting it done all year against the top teams in the NL.

I just do not see the Cubs having enough talent or enough consistency to make any kind of postseason run. Sure, Carlos Zambrano can be as good as it gets at times, but did anyone see him pitch in August? It was tough to watch. Rich Hill and Sean Marshall pretty much define the word inconsistency, and you will never see me betting any money on Jason Marquis, unless it’s taking the over on hits and runs allowed. Even Ted Lilly, their most consistent pitcher all year, posted an ERA of more than five in August.

I just do not see the Cubs matching up well with any of the potential playoff teams. The only team they had a winning record against in the regular season was the Rockies, and the Rockies are on the outside looking in right now. The Padres’ pitching is and has all season been too dominant for the Cubs, especially if it can send Jake Peavy out there twice in a five-game series or potentially three times in a seven-game series. The same goes for Brandon Webb of Arizona. The Cubs’ pitching is not good enough to supplant the power offenses of the Phillies and Mets, and their offense cannot match them in a slugfest. They may make the divisional series interesting if they draw the Diamondbacks first, but word to the wise (if possible) Cubs fans: celebrate a playoff berth modestly. This year is not yours.

Kevin Olsen is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]