By Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune –
MINNEAPOLIS — The Chicago Cubs have been playing baseball since 1876, and reliable sources say they haven’t won a championship in more than a century.
Going down as the worst Cubs team in history would be a dubious achievement the players and coaching staff want no part of, but manager Dale Sveum conceded they have to step it up if they hope to avoid that distinction.
“Unfortunately, that mark is there after 60 games,” Sveum said before Sunday’s 8-2 win over the Twins. “That mark is definitely there, to, shoot, break a lot of records. Shoot, we’ve got to start winning some baseball games.”
The Cubs then went out and won a baseball game behind Ryan Dempster, who earned his second straight win with eight shutout innings. They finished the 10-game road trip with a 2-8 record, and Dempster recorded both of the wins, following his own personal 18-game winless streak with 15 consecutive scoreless innings.
“It was a good way for us to end a not-so-good road trip,” Dempster said.
With a 20-40 record, the Cubs are on pace to lose 108 games. The franchise record for most losses in a season is 103, set in 1962 and tied in ‘66.
“Hopefully you have to change the pace,” Sveum said with a laugh. “I mean, you laugh about it, but it’s definitely there. It’s a reality. You don’t want any kind of label like that, so you better back it up pretty quick if you get that label. But, hey, sometimes you bite the bullet on things. That’s just the way it is.
“On an everyday basis, yeah, everybody wants you to snap and yell and scream. But … find something to snap and yell and scream about. And I’ve already done that once. So what are you going to do?
“Are you going to keep doing it? It doesn’t make any sense when the guys are busting their (butts) and preparing every single day. It’s not like we’re throwing balls all over the place. We’ve just got to get better in certain areas. That’s the way it is. We know that.”
So when did Sveum snap?
“I’ve had my times,” he said. “You guys don’t have to know about all of them.”
Sveum laughed and said he didn’t remember which game he snapped after, but confirmed it was a “couple weeks” ago.
“It didn’t help, obviously,” he cracked. “In some areas it did.”
The Cubs salvaged the final game with a blowout, as David DeJesus drove in three runs, Starlin Castro had three hits and Reed Johnson reached base four times.
“Very needed,” DeJesus said. “With this off day coming (Monday) we needed to go out feeling OK, with some good self-esteem about our team.”
Self-esteem doesn’t seem to be an issue, despite the losing ways. The music in the postgame clubhouse was turned up to 11, suggesting the rare win was a good excuse to bring on an audio assault that would burst most people’s ear drums.
“A lot of us, we’ve been on not very good teams before,” Sveum said. “But not (for) this kind of stretch of games. We’re getting into some pretty awful numbers.”
Dempster has been on bad teams in Miami and Chicago, and probably won’t be around if the Cubs do threaten the all-time franchise record for losses. Still, he believes the club is holding up well.
“We’re doing good,” he said. “As good as can be expected.”