When Kris Bryant made that final throw to Anthony Rizzo, some Cubs fans mostly felt relief.
IN THE DAYS after Nov. 2, we all smiled as we watched the videos of ancient Cubs fans celebrating — the man opening the 32-year-old can of beer, or 108-year-old Hazel Nilson wearing an inside-out rally cap. Were we happiest for these fans because we knew the limitless suffering they’d endured? Or because we knew that they alone won’t be so burdened by the long task of living that follows the final out?
For the Cubs, as with their fans, the challenge starts anew, and it’s worth asking what that challenge is. For Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, the goal is to win another World Series, and another, and another. But for the franchise, the goals aren’t as narrow. A team doesn’t exist to win the World Series but to make its fans happy.
A few years ago, at Baseball Prospectus, I looked at what differentiated World Series winners and losers after the series ended and found two things: World Series winners over the past 25 years have averaged five fewer wins the following season than the losers did. Perhaps relatedly, World Series winners tend to bring almost all their players back, while World Series losers continue to upgrade.
Bartolo made 65 trips to the plate this year — and struck out in 40 of them. So how amazing is it that, when he wasn’t swinging and missing, he did even more cool stuff. Like becoming the oldest man ever to draw his first walk. He did that on Aug. 15, against Arizona’s Robbie Ray. In the 281st plate appearance of his career. Barry Bonds once walked 94 times in a span of 281 plate appearances, if that gives you any idea how hard it is to walk zero times.
Hey, but that wasn’t all. On Aug. 26, Bartolo hit a double and a single in back-to-back innings. They call that a multihit game, friends. And you know it had been a while since his last multihit extravaganza, seeing as how the team he did it with the previous time (the 2002 Expos) doesn’t even exist anymore. In between those unforgettable Bartolo Colon multihit games, all the other pitchers out there got 982 multihit games. Just thought you should know that.