Things have gotten so bad for the Cubs at Wrigley Field that not even the grounds crew wanted to take part in the annual tradition of leading the Stretch during the final home game. There may even be a very good reason why country singer Thomas Rhett was given that role for the afternoon, but the fact remains that the whole afternoon felt weird.
Or maybe it felt just like the rest of this disappointing season during which fan service seems to be the last thing on the organization’s mind. Speaking of fans, there were quite a few more of them filling the seats than we’ve seen over the last several weeks. That tends to happen when the weather is perfect and the Cardinals are in town for the final home series.
As for the rest of the season, well, attendance wasn’t as great as in previous years. Per Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs averaged 31,566 fans across their 50 full capacity games. That’s about 7,000 fewer fans than in 2019 and I’d be willing to bet this year’s number doesn’t come close to reflecting the true number of fans who were actually in the ballpark on any given day.
That could turn around if ownership sets the budget at an acceptable level, but a lot of those missing fans may not be lured back unless the product improves dramatically while prices fall. Not sure the latter half of that equation is in the cards.
Cubs end home schedule having averaged 31,566 fans in their 50 full-capacity games. That would be lowest Cubs averaged per game at Wrigley Field since 1997 (27,041).
Even so, #Cubs average 81-home game attendance currently ranks 8th in MLB & total is just shy of 2 million fans.
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 26, 2021
In any case, Sunday’s home finale was notable only for an infield fly call that got Mike Shildt ejected and forced the Cardinals to face exactly one more batter to close out a 4-2 win. You know things have gotten bad when it’s more fun to root for the opposing manager to get tossed than for anything your team accomplished in the game.
Even Keegan Thompson‘s excellent effort wasn’t really enough to get excited about, what with the offense putting up only two runs behind him. And I do mean behind, since Thompson threw just three innings and the Cubs didn’t score until after he’d left the game. His only mistake was a home run by Paul Goldschmidt, but he was able to put away batters for seven strikeouts in what was easily his best start in the bigs.
Keegan Thompson, Filthy 90mph Cutter. ✂️ pic.twitter.com/85hU1rGgBK
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 26, 2021
Sunday’s loss was the Cubs’ sixth in a row at Wrigley and their 42nd overall on the season, a pretty low total when you consider they dropped a franchise-worst 13 straight at home earlier. But hey, it beats the hell out of being 19 games under .500 on the road. This is the part where I had initially considered going into some stats from the 81 games at Wrigley before thinking better of it.
After all, it really doesn’t matter when you think about how dramatically the team was changed at the trade deadline. It was like two different seasons, each of which had a very clear period of fun baseball wedged between unbearably poor play.
The original iteration had that hot streak in May that had them looking like contenders until they went and no-hit the Dodgers. The Zombie Cubs came back to life for a seven-game winning streak fueled by the bat of Frank Schwindel, but that fizzled just as quickly as it started and the Cubs are back among the seven worst teams in baseball.
There’s really nothing profound I can say here and I realize now that I’m just typing out words in order to produce content because the Cubs are giving me nothing compelling to write about. That should change this offseason, even if they just end up making relatively pedestrian moves, because the roster is going to have to look quite a bit different than it does now.
Even with so much uncertainty ahead when it comes to Jed Hoyer’s ability to rebuild and team, fans can take heart in knowing that at least the Cubs aren’t the Bears.