Thursday, June 02, 2005

for the love of improbability

the last time i remember being this surprised by a cub winning streak was in 1997, i think, when the cubs rattled off five straight for no good reason in the midst of a 67-win mel-rojas-death-spiral-nightmare. coming on the heels of prior's ko, with wood and nomar weeks away from contributing, with ramirez stuck in the mud, staring down the barrel of a tragic schedule -- it's amazing.

and yet here sit the cubs, winners of six straight, coming off the debut win of a starting pitcher with a minor-league record of 50-60. never mind that three of the wins were against a truly decrepit colorado squad. never mind that the cubs caught a dodger team that is finally backsliding to its pythagorean winning percentage. this is winning! who cares who they're beating? i'll take it!

that said, however, the reality remains unchanged. the cubs still have exactly two guys really hitting -- lee and now ramirez (with neifi managing a meager .283 OBP in may despite his 10-game hitting streak) -- and are scoring with a power spurt (15 HR in the last seven games, 5 by lee), not base-clogging (only 17 team walks in that span). power is great when it shows up in a timely way, of course -- as it has this last week -- but is inconsistent because it often doesn't. not having the dodger and rockie pitching staffs to take deep (being ranked 14th and 13th respectively in total bases allowed as they are) will not help -- especially headed to spacious petco, where the san diego staff has been dominating.

and the cubs are, of course, still faced with a rotation that includes two triple-a pitchers for the next few weeks at least. and a weak bullpen from which their most talented reliever was recently subtracted. and that unremitting schedule.

what am i saying? well, i guess my advice is to enjoy this ride on the wave of improbability. i'm enjoying it in my way, and i hope you are in yours -- because this may be as good as it gets.

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