The magic number all television shows try to reach is 100. If you can churn out quality content or at the very least, quality ratings (the two almost always go hand in hand, except for Glee. Glee is a show with ratings I could never even begin to explain) for the networks to keep you around long enough, then you have a shot at accomplishing production of 100 episodes. The golden number.
Why is it so golden? Because if you reach 100 times on the air, each time with original content, then you qualify for networks to pick you up on syndication where you live on in re-runs forever and ever and ever. It’s how you maintain a legacy unlike the other shows that never made it. It’s how you become Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, The King of Queens or Frasier instead of say, The Paul Reiser Show. (Poor Paul Reiser. That show should have just ripped off Larry David’s formula since it called itself out on it anyway, lost the friends and just focused on Paul. I still think there’s a place for Paul Reiser on network television. Just needs to find a vehicle people are mad about again).
If footage of the Cubs’ 2011 season were simply various installments of a long-running television show, we would have just witnessed the 100th original episode airing today and the folks at RBC (Ricketts Broadcasting Company) could celebrate the opportunity to rank in millions upon millions in syndication money. The money the networks would pay to air the shows. The money the advertisers would pay to sell their products in reruns. It would all add up over time and today would have been a momentous occasion to be celebrated. Yes, a 4-2 win over the lowly Houston Astros in your 100th game of the season is something to smile about, too. But in this hypothetical world we’re talking about syndication here. The opportunity to re-live and enjoy some of our favorite moments in ‘Cubs 2011’ history over and over again until the end of time.
Take these classic episodes that can live on in re-run lore for years to come, for instance:
“The Wrigley Bunch” – Marmol and Zambrano aren’t getting along. Zambrano blames the team’s problems on Marmol and Marmol, cast as the team’s middle reliever can’t get away from media statements that perhaps Marshall would better serve as the club’s closer. Marmol melts down with his now classic outburst of “Marshall, Marshall, Marshall!” A favorite moment among Cubs fans everywhere.
“Different Folks” – Wells and Cashner go down with injuries and Quade is put in a rather uncomfortable situation of trying to replace his number four and five starters. Half a dozen new cast members are brought in and rotated to fill the roles. Among them, newcomer Casey Coleman is cast as the promising young replacement pitcher who struggles through outing after outing. While mostly a dramatic time in the series, Coleman does end up with one of the most memorable lines in the history of the series: “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout Riggins?”. T-shirt and toy companies pick up on the pop culture trail the line is blazing and kids all over Cubs nation are seen wearing the shirts and saying the line.
“Family Tries” – The organization has a plan going into the draft. After much collaborating they decide it would be best to try and draft talent that will help the club in the future. A plan that most others would think to be obvious, however, for this comedic ensemble, nothing is obvious. They plan to draft the son of a famous, popular, successful athlete to come up through the ranks and become another great baseball player. The problem? They get the kid and sign him, only the former great athlete that produced this draft pick? Wayne Gretzky. Interesting strategy. Hilarious outcome.
“T*R*E*N*D*S” – The one where Carlos Marmol blows a save. This will be a recurring theme appearing throughout the series and fans will recognize the storyline coming a mile away. The producers, not quite sure how to get it just right, will attempt the story nearly 10 times over the course of the 100 episodes. A heartwarming season where Zambrano consoles Marmol after new teen heart-throb, Ramon Ortiz does laps with Marmol to try and get his head right with a classic ‘I’ll be there for you’ highlights the story arc. Marmol ends up getting his act together in the end and the problem is once again solved in the thirty minute alloted story window.
“Judge Quade” – Sassy, take no-guff, judge of talent, team manager Mike Quade is the focus of this highlight/Best Of show, one of the last to air before the 100th episode came to fruition. Blowouts with umpires with Quade judging their calls of outs around the bases, an argument with Ryan Dempster, starting pitcher and fundraiser extraordinaire at the top of the dugout steps as a result of Judge Quade judging it was time to take Demp out early and an animated conversation between Quade, team all-star Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney about how to judge balls in the sun based on previous case precedents are just part of the fun with this classic Cubs episode.
100 original airings of Cubs 2011 and there are sixty-two more to come. The hi-jinx, comedy, drama, mystery and despair is what has made the series one of the more interesting things to watch this year. Critics have complained the cast is too old and it’s time to bring in new talent. Time to write off the old. Producers are still dealing with how exactly the series is going to end and what exactly the story arc will be. Once they have figured it out, they should know better what type of casting will need to be done. Then again, depending on the talent available for the next part of the season, they might simply work around the cast and the script will take care of itself.
Cubs baseball was on the air 100 times already this season. Sixty-two more to go. The hypothetical allows the celebration of syndication and an incredible opportunity. In reality, we’re looking at fifth place in the Central (40-60) and hope that the second half makes up for the complications we’ve seen in the first half.
The Astros are a good team to have in town to re-work this Cubs 2011 script. I’ve seen the first 10o episodes and let me tell you, a rewrite might not be possible, but it sure could use a whole new direction. Tomorrow, hopefully, the re-work does in fact continue. Go Cubs Go!