If only Mike Quade could get his team to play when the season still mattered.
Turn the pressure off, as it was last August when Quade took over, and the Cubs perform up to standard, as evident during this five-game winning streak with the Cubs floating in obscurity 18-games below .500 and 15-games back in the division.
Add expectations, however, and the Cubs get cooked for four months before playing like the the team that was suppose to avoid such dire straights this year.
So if Quade rallies the Cubs on another late season charge, the Cubs are playing .500 ball over the last 20-games since the All Star break, is that grounds to bring the skipper back for another season?
Or has the precedent been set–Quade Power is limited to no-pressure situations, which is good for drumming up offseason excitement, but doesn’t hold water come April.
That’s the question Cubs management must figure out before next year…or risk losing another season to post season obscurity.
The Pirates’ seven-game losing streak is as a prime example of the old adage ‘good teams know how to win’.
Pittsburgh has shown they’re a far better team than anyone expected them to be. However, they’ve also shown their youth and inexperience by buckling under the pressure of a divisional race.
Becoming buyers at the Trade Deadline was exciting, but also added additional pressure to the expectations of winning…the stakes being raised with each game seemingly more important than the last.
Good teams know how to channel the excitement into wins. Inexperienced contenders like Pittsburgh often crumble, as has been the case with the Pirates falling seven-games behind division leading Milwaukee since Sunday.
No doubt the Peg Legs feel the screws tightening. This is, after all, unfamiliar territory for a team that’s spent nearly two decades sweeping up the basement of the NL Central.
But learning how to win over the course of a 162 game marathon doesn’t happen over night, let alone, over four months of .500 baseball.
A huge part of becoming a division winner is beating lesser teams like the Cubs, especially at home. But a four-game sweep at the hands of lowly Chicago has virtually eliminated the Pirates’ post season bid.
The Pirates have, at last, enough collective talent to win its division…learning how to win it is the next step to becoming a good team.