Is this year’s team different?

On at least two occasions Alvin Yellon has commented on how different this year’s team is compared to last year. After Saturday’s win he said it for at least the second time that I’m aware of. The Cubs were down 8-5 and came back to win, which prompted Alvin to say this:

It’s absolutely clear to me that this team is different from last year’s. Last year’s team would have folded up its tent after going behind 8-5; this year’s club seems to know how to come back, having done so on several occasions already even in games they haven’t managed to come all the way back and win.

After the first time I heard this I wanted to take a look to see whether or not there was any truth to it. I realized I had better things to do. After this time though, I thought why not? How hard is it to go back and look at the first 20 games of the 2010 season (now 21 games)? It’s not that hard so I went ahead and did it.

Interestingly, the 2010 team was 10-11 after 21 games, which is the same record as this year’s team, but that doesn’t tell us whether or not Alvin is onto something or just making shit up.

On Opening Day last year the Cubs got blown out 16-5. The next closest game to a blowout last year by this time was a 6-1 loss. This year they’ve been blown out twice. Both teams who blew the Cubs out broke unwritten rules so we should probably count those as wins instead.

In the 4th game of the season last year the Cubs lost 5-4, but it was one of those games the Cubs blew early on like they have done a couple times this year. The Cubs had a 3-1 lead in the 8th and Cincy scored 4 to take a 5-3 lead. The Cubs came back though and nearly tied it and scored 1 in the 9th. There’s one game they came back even though they didn’t win, which Alvin specifically mentioned about this year’s team.

The next game the Cubs fell behind 3-0 early and then tied it a few innings later. They scored 1 in the 8th to win the game. A comeback win for the 2010 team.

A couple games after that they won 7-6, but they fell behind 4-2 by the bottom of the 7th. The Cubs then scored 1 to make it a 4-3 game before giving up 2 more and then scoring 4 in their last at-bat to win 7-6. Another comeback win.

The very next game was another one the Cubs came back, but still lost. Trailing 4-2  the Cubs tied it in the 4th, fell behind 5-4 in the 6th, tie it once again, then they got behind 8-5 and the Cubs still score another run.

The next game the Cubs trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the 7th. Cubs score 6 runs and win 7-2. Another late inning comeback by the 2010 team.

Also the next game, the Cubs trailed 4-0 in the bottom of the 8th to the Astros and scored 3. They lost 4-3, but that’s now the 3rd time they’ve nearly come back while they have come back to win 3 times.

A 9-3 win was the result of the Cubs scoring 6 in their last 3 at-bats.

The 20th game of the season saw the Cubs with a walk-off win in the 10th.

The 2010 team came back regularly, which was a sign of just how not good the 2010 team was. They kept having to come back to win and were still only 10-11 after those 21 games. The games they did lose they made many of them competitive by scoring runs late to keep it close.

This year’s team isn’t any different. They’ve blown some games like the 2010 team. They came back to win a few games like the 2010 team. They made games close by scoring late just like the 2010 team. In the end, this year’s team sits the very same 10-11 against even worse competition than the Cubs played a year ago. Last year the team had played 6 against Milwaukee, 3 against Cincy and 3 against the Braves. This year’s team has played 3 against Milwaukee and 3 against the Rockies. The rest of the teams are either bad or slightly below average like the Dodgers.

No, this year’s team isn’t the least bit different. They’re a little worse, but in terms of how they’ve gone about winning and losing, it’s the exact same as last year’s team and I suspect the same as the previous years as well as every other team. It’s called baseball. Sometimes you blow some games, steal some games late, come back yet fail to win. That’s the game.