After the Chicago Cubs fell a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central yesterday, manager Joe Maddon may have to rummage through his bag of tricks to keep his young stars from being re-infected by the franchise’s former, century-long losing mentality.
In the past, Maddon has freely admitted to resorting to psychobabble to keep his team looking on the bright side. It turns out that Maddon’s efforts are not the first time someone has attempted to reverse the Cubs’ fortunes using psychology.
YOU CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL
The “You Can’t Win ‘Em All” episode of The Bob Newhart Show first aired on February, 24, 1973. At the time, the comedy series was concluding a successful inaugural season which saw it finish as the 16th highest ranked program in the Nielsen ratings.
In the baseball-themed episode, Bob Newhart, playing fictional Chicago-based psychologist Bob Hartley, treats Cubs pitcher Phil Bender (Julian Christopher) who’s been struggling from the mound. Bender pitches a five-hit shutout in his next game, then credits Dr. Hartley for the turnaround in his postgame interview.
Soon, Cubs catcher Moose Washburn (Vern Rowe) also seeks Dr. Hartley’s help to get out of a prolonged batting slump. Predictably, things don’t go as smoothly as they did with Bender.
1973 CHICAGO CUBS
The real-life Cubs finished the 1973 season in fifth place in the National League East with a 77-84 record. Interestingly, 1973 was the only season between 1945 and 1984 in which the Cubs were still in contention on the last day of the regular season.
While there wasn’t a Phil Bender on the pitching roster, Ferguson “Fergie” Jenkins led the team with a 14-16 record (3.89 ERA, 170 Ks).