Yes! My boys finally made it back to the postseason for the first time since 2003! Personally, I can’t believe it. Sunday, the Cubs had a three-game lead over the Brewers with six to play, so all they had to do was win four of six to win the division. Naturally, they proceeded to lose three straight in Florida. Great. Miraculously, the Brewers only gained one game during that stretch, and the Cubs were able to ice it tonight against the Reds while the Brew Crew lost to San Diego. I’d like to thank my cousin Tim’s guys for losing to us and allowing us into the playoffs. Much obliged.
I suppose all Cubs fans are skeptics (who can blame us?); I expected an epic collapse during this week, but 1-3 was enough to claim the Central. So now instead of writing about the errors the team has made down the stretch (trading for Steve Trachsel? Hadn’t we already witnessed his incompetence?), I get to write about what made this team different from all the dismal teams the Tribune Company has trotted out before.
I first felt something might be different about this year when Aramis Ramirez hit a come-from-behind, walk-off home run at Wrigley some time in June. The Cubs have been a part of plenty of walk-offs, but they’re usually the ones serving them up. This was…well…clutch. That’s something the Cubs never are. Chicago went on a tear shortly thereafter to get themselves into the race.
The second moment when I wondered if they might make the playoffs this season was in late August after they had hung around first place but hadn’t put it away. I think they had lost a few in a row, and the Beermakers were creeping closer. Up 3-2 with the go-ahead run on third base, the batter hit a chopper to 1st. Lee thought about throwing home to get a second out but instead started the 1-3-6-1 double play to win the game outright. Wow.
This year’s team has a lot of promise (plenty of hitting, two really good starters, and a good bullpen) and some weaknesses too (the other starters, no great closer). I hope they make a title run. I’m excited that we made the playoffs, but I hope the team isn’t satisfied with that.
ASIDE: The Yankees have also made the playoffs for the 124,375th time; who could possibly be surprised by that? How about all the writers who were prophesying doom for the Bombers in May. Throughout that “Yanks are failing” kerfuffle, I kept saying to the TV, “They’re the YANKEES! They’re going to make the playoffs anyway!” I hope this is a lesson to all sports journalists out there: don’t overreact, especially early in a season! Of course, you won’t learn this lesson because sensationalism sells papes.