CHICAGO – When it comes to an infamous number for Cubs fans, usually one that comes quickly to mind: 108.
That is the amount of years in which the franchise has gone since last winning a World Series on October 14, 1908. That number is so high that the refrain “Wait ‘Till Next Year” became a slogan of the franchise as the frustration continued.
Another “Tragic Number” for Cubs fans might be 71 – the number of years since the Cubs last won the National League pennant in 1945. Those two numbers can’t be taken to zero for at least another couple of weeks but the team can get rid of another streak of theirs before the playoffs even begin.
That’s 81 – the number of years since the Cubs last won 100 or more games in a single season. Right now the team is at 99 victories after a 3-1 triumph in the regular season home finale against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Not since the 1935 season have the Cubs finished a year with 100 or more wins. In a 154-game schedule the Cubs finished right at the century mark to win the National League pennant and haven’t gotten to that mark since. The 1945 Cubs (98 wins) were the closest before this year’s team eclipsed them this weekend at Wrigley Field.
Should the Cubs win one game this week they would be come the 99th team in Major League Baseball history to win 100 games in a season. It would be the sixth time in franchise history that the Cubs would finish with triple digits in wins.
So does 100 wins indicate a better shot for postseason success? Yes and no.
That 1935 Cubs team along with three others (1906, 1907, 1910) went to the World Series but only the 1907 squad went onto win a championship. The other three World Series seasons the Cubs lost to a team that had fewer wins.
In 1909 the Cubs had the misfortune of winning 104 games but finished six games behind the pennant-winning Pirates who went onto win the World Series.
Oddly enough the Cubs’ only postseason success since winning the World Series in 1908 came against teams that won 100 or more games. In 2003 the Cubs knocked off the 101-win Braves in five games in the National League Division Series while last year the team beat a 100-win Cardinals clubs in the NLDS.
Of the 98 previous teams to win 100 games, 34 went onto win the World Series but the trend hasn’t been common lately. Of the last 17 teams to win 100 or more games, only the 2009 Yankees went onto win the World Series.
Kyle Hendricks gets the first crack at win No. 100 Monday night when the Cubs start a four-game series with the Pirates at PNC Park. That will guarantee that at least one long Cubs’ streak will disappear in a memorable 2016 season.