The Pirates haven’t won a playoff series since 1979. The Cubs may not have won a World Series in more than 100 years but in 2003 they beat the Braves in the NLDS. So whose drought is worse?
Braves fans will note some familiar subplots. In 2012 Kris Medlen, like Jake Arrieta, was unhittable in the second half (0.94 ERA, 64 HA in 95 IP). But he didn’t fool many Cardinal batters in the Wild Card game, giving up 5 runs (2 earned) in 6-1/3. Arrieta has been more dominant — the Pirates have three extra base hits in 125 AB’s against him this year — but that guarantees nothing.
Clint Hurdle has decided to counter with defense and speed, starting Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez over Aramis Ramirez and Pedro Alvarez. It’s the kind of decision Bobby would’ve made. Conversely, Joe Maddon is starting Tommy LaStella at 3B (batting 5th) with Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber on the OF corners. Sacrificing defense, with Arrieta on the mound, is an interesting choice.
The Pirates are the better team, but, as Braves fans witnessed in ’93, ’96, ’97 and ’98, the better team doesn’t always win in October. Let’s hope Pittsburgh “bucs” that trend because Cubs fans will become as insufferable as Red Sox Nation if they win.