It’s really happening. The Cubs are playing in the playoffs.
Of course, given the expanded nature of the playoffs, that’s not exactly what it used to be. They aren’t even the National League team with the longest drought left standing, as the Mets last were in the playoffs in 2006 (as we well remember) while the Cubs made a brief appearance in the 2008 postseason. Teams like Toronto look at Chicago’s playoff appearances in the Wild Card era (now five of them) with envy. So while there’s still a lot of history, where the Cubs are now isn’t historic. Where they could be soon, that’s a different story. As the saying goes, this isn’t your father’s Cubs, but it could be your great-grandfather’s.
We’re talking to Rob of Blue Batting Helmet today about those baby bears. Be sure to check out his blog as he documents what could be a quick exit or a run like 2004.
C70: If you had to sum up this season in a word or phrase, what would it be?
BBH: Overwhelming. Never before has it been this exciting to be a Cubs fan.
C70: What worries you the most about the Pirates, beyond the flukes of a one game battle?
BBH: Losing via a walkoff in the 9th inning or later. I really wanted to get the home field advantage for this game.
C70: Assuming you get past the Wild Card Game, what has to happen for the Cubs to have a deep October run?
BBH: The starting pitching has to continue (Jake Arrieta is practically superhuman at this point), the bullpen must get as little use as possible, and what Longfellow once called “the mighty blasts of October” will have to come in abundance. Manufacturing runs isn’t what this team does.
C70: Is there a player that will be the key to the postseason?
BBH: Anthony Rizzo is the heart and soul of this team. If he hits well, things will be just fine. And Starlin Castro will find some way to make a contribution, too.
C70: How high is confidence running among the Chicago faithful?
BBH: We’re very emboldened, especially with Jake on the mound Wednesday night. Remember the Superfans from the SNL skit? I don’t think they ever ventured into baseball territory, but they’re toasting to “da Cubs” right about now.
C70: What’s the minimum that counts as a successful postseason for the Cubs?
BBH: World Series title or bust. It has to be this year, for reasons that I’ll share when I can. I will say that the billy goat has finally met its match.