Due to early season rainouts, the Chicago Cubs were originally scheduled to complete a “death march” stretch of 23 late-season games scheduled in the same number of days. Thanks to epic mishandling of a rainy weekend in Washington by MLB, the stretch was extended to 30 in 30 after the final game in DC on September 9 was rescheduled for September 13. This period was a crucial test of the team’s endurance and resilience in the run towards a potential third consecutive NL Central Division title and fourth straight postseason appearance despite being hit hard by injuries, including season-ending injuries for SP Yu Darvish and RP Brandon Morrow as well as significant DL stints for INF Kris Bryant.
Some Cubs players showed a sense of humor about the issues presented by the schedule by wearing their uniform during team travel to show “game readiness.” Unofficial team captain INF Anthony Rizzo was the first, trolling MLB by wearing his full uniform and eye black on the Cubs’ plane.
Tough loss to the Brewers, quick trip to Washington D.C, and a 30-day stretch with no scheduled days off. How does Anthony Rizzo handle that? He lightens the mood with his own themed road trip. More on his attire at @WGNNews. https://t.co/LKlic6OSg8
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) September 13, 2018
Rizzo didn’t bring any pants other than his uniform, according to KB https://t.co/MhhH0QIXYu
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) September 13, 2018
Star INF Javier “El Mago” Báez followed by wearing his uniform on the return trip to Chicago.
Javier Baez stayed in full uniform for the ride back from D.C.https://t.co/TgNcVTvJK3
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) September 14, 2018
And earlier this week, the 2016 World Series MVP, INF Ben Zobrist, wore his uniform on the commute from his Chicago home to Wrigley Field.
— John Greenfield (@greenfieldjohn) September 17, 2018
The Northsiders entered the 30-game stretch on August 21 with a 2.5 game lead in the Central Division as of that date, losing the opener of a two-game interleague series in Detroit by a final score of 2-1. However, the team split the series with an 8-2 victory on August 22 in the Cubs debut of INF Daniel Murphy, behind a star turn by “El Mago” that kicked off a season-high seven-game winning streak. The Cubs were able to extend the division lead to as many as 5.0 games as of September 2 but dropped to just 1.0 games ahead following the aforementioned rainy weekend in Washington after a sweep in the doubleheader on September 8, and a series loss in the head-to-head matchup with the second-place Milwaukee Brewers from September 10-12. The Cubs were able to regain ground with a win in the Washington makeup game on September 13, a series win against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley over the weekend of September 14-16 and a road series win in the desert versus the Arizona Diamondbacks from September 17-19. Following the 9-0 loss to Arizona that allowed the home team to salvage the series, the Cubs finished the stretch where they started, with a 2.5 game lead over Milwaukee in the Central Division.