The last time the Cubs lost nine straight games was May 8-18, 2002.
The skid dropped Chicago to (13-27), two wins fewer than this year’s team on the same date, and set the course for a (67-95) finish, third worst in the National League and only ahead of the 66-win Padres and woeful 56-win Brewers.
Chicago did rally to win 7 of 10 following the streak, but it wasn’t enough to save manager Don Baylor’s job.
Baylor was canned after 83-games ending his 2.5 season on the North Side and replaced by Triple-A Iowa skipper Bruce Kimm who finished out the campaign (33-45).
Jim Hendry was simultaneously promoted to general manager taking over the duties once held by team president Andy MacPhail.
It was a rough, rough time to be a Cubs fan, as is similarly the case today.
Unlike 2002, however, we know Dale Sveum won’t be fired mid-way through the season. And we can fairly assume next year’s club won’t rebound to win 21 more games and come within six outs of reaching the World Series.
But that’s okay. Hope is on the way, albeit a seemingly painful long ways away.
The thing to remember about Epstein’s master plan is the action he’s taking to ensure the club stays consistently competitive.
Even if the Cubs take a dive and miss the postseason in coming years, it shouldn’t come at the expense of 90-plus loss seasons or taking desperate steps to overpay coveted free agents in the offseason.
Instead, Theo’s vision is to craft a ball club capable of maintaining championship competitiveness season-in and season-out.
That’s a warm and fuzzy feeling, of course, but a feeling that must be put on hold while Epstein strips the club down to its core, reloads the minor league system and lands the most sensible free agents next winter.
It’s a taxing job for all parties involved, including the fans, and will undoubtedly takes loads of precious time and patience to succeed–including the occasional nine-game (and counting) losing streak.