Here we are, on the threshold of the post-season with the best Cubs team of my lifetime, division champs assured of finishing with the league's best record, and I find myself struggling to fill a post. I think perhaps the problem is the unique state of things: it's late September, and I'm watching games without significant impact on the Cubs, not owing to the team' futility and early elimination from the pennant race, but because of the team's excellence and decisively won division crown.
I enjoyed this piece Tuesday by Patrick Sullivan at The Baseball Analysts. Sullivan is apparently a transplanted Chicagoan, and he writes what I would write about the Cubs...if I were a better writer.
Sometimes with a team as popular, marketable and seemingly omnipresent as the Cubs, minor successes can become overblown. As this phenomenon relates to the 2008 edition of the Cubs, it seems to have diminished their stature. Story after story about those lovable Cubs fans, the effusiveness emanating from Wrigley, and for one magical night from Miller Park, has overshadowed just how damn good this team is that Chicago has fielded this season.
They have scored more runs than any National League team. Only the Dodgers, in their spacious confines, have allowed fewer runs. No Cubs regular sports an on-base percentage south of .350. Their 110 OPS+ is their highest total of any Cubs team in 71 seasons. The 118 ERA+ Cubs pitchers boast is second only to the Dodgers. Their 188 run-differential is best in the National League by 72 runs.There will be time to dissect the Cubs further...but for now, let us acknowledge a regular season of historic significance for one of Major League Baseball's most beloved franchises. The post-season promises unpredictable twists and turns but there can be no mistaking that this is the best October team Chicago will field in generations.
Not being fully emotionally invested in this week's games (though it was still galling to lose to the Mets Tuesday night), I paid a little more attention to some of the other games on the evening's schedule, specifically the Braves/Phillies, Pirates/Brewers, and White Sox/Twins matchups.
Having decided to root against the Mets and their fans enjoying any success this year or ever, I was disappointed with the Phillies loss, which, coupled with the Mets' win over the Cubs, reduced the Philly lead in the NL East to just 1 1/2 games. The Brewers scraped together an eighth-inning run to tie their game with Pittsburgh at 5-5, before Prince Fielder pounded a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give Milwaukee a 7-5 victory and keep them within a game of the Mets for the Wild Card.
Finally, in Minneapolis, the White Sox got what was, is, and should be coming to them: a full-out beating. Years ago, I adopted the Twins as my favorite American League team—partly because of how masterfully they are able to torture the White Sox—and with the Sox' AL Central lead now down to just a game-and-a-half, I think I'm going to find it easy to remain interested in the final two games in this series.
Labels: National League Playoffs