CHICAGO | Nothing wrong with the number 101, if the subject is Dalmations.
But when you're the Cubs and are drawing snickers around Major League Baseball, life at the ballpark can be a real drag.
For this week's series finale with baseball's worst team, the Houston Astros, tickets went for $2 and less on StubHub to see the two worst teams with a combined 208 losses.
Their misery finally ended Wednesday as Bryan LaHair's two-out, bases-loaded single down the right field line gave the Cubs a 5-4 win.
"After the season we had, the best way you can finish a season is be at home and have a walk-off win," first-year manager Dale Sveum said.
"I was pretty psyched about today's game," added LaHair, who also homered in the second. "I talked to my grandmother Tuesday night. I wanted to get one more for her and luckily I did.
"I'm just taking all the positives out of this year. I'm not taking any negatives out. I had a chance to play. earlier in the year and I did well, then I sat the bench the second half. There's obviously a lot of room for improvement."
Sveum, a low-key guy, cut a sympathetic figure leaning up against the dugout rail during a 61-101 nightmare season.
The Cubs lost 100 games for the third time in franchise history, including 1962 (59-103) and 1966 (59-103).
They had lost 29 consecutive games scoring three runs or less.
They were shut out 16 times.
They lost 27 games by a single run.
They lost 14 of their last 18 games.
Their high water mark was a game under .500 at 1-2.
“I've been in the game 30 years. I enjoy coming to the ballpark,” Sveum said, regardless. “I obviously enjoy managing. I enjoyed coaching. I enjoy the competitiveness and everything about it. I enjoy watching the guys work and improve.
“It's part of my life. Yeah, I have fun doing it.”
Fun? Really? Really?
“When the game's over with, just like anything, nobody likes losing,” Sveum said. “But that's part of life as well. Somebody's gotta win, somebody's got to lose.
“You don't want to lose 102 games but nobody said life was easy.”
A Wednesday crowd of 27,606 under threatening skies settled in to watch basically two no-name lineups.
On the center field scoreboard and right field wall, huge signs read: THANK YOU, FANS!
Cubs players and coaches circled the field, throwing T-shirts and baseballs into the slim turnout as it stood and cheered.
The press box was half filled and quiet as a nursery.
Next season, the Cubs will add three rows and 56 premium seats behind home plate but major changes must also enhance the roster.
Team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer joined Sveum in recognizing four “keepers” for 2013 – pitcher Jeff Samardzija, second baseman Darwin Barney, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro while undecided on left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who still has two years remaining on his bloated contract, and LaHair.