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Cosmic Things Really Are Happening

This is a phrase my buddy Mike uses often, when things seem to be lining up the Cubs' way. We hardly ever get to use it, but did often in 1998, and have at times this year.

Today, things really do seem to be lining up. Tonight, I am VERY cautiously optimistic, after Kerry Wood took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and wound up throwing seven one-hit innings, and the Cubs beat the Reds 6-0, and combined with the Astros' almost certain loss to the Giants (at this writing it's not over, but Houston gave up ten runs in the second inning, and still trails 10-0 in the fifth), that puts the Cubs a game up with five to go, and the magic number will be five. Win them all and it doesn't matter what anyone else does.

Naturally, that comes with a lot of caveats. Houston is still a good ballclub, and they have their ace Roy Oswalt going tomorrow, with Shawn Estes, who's been terrible for two months, going for the Cubs. Somehow, I feel Estes has one last great effort in him. If the Cubs do win this thing, Estes won't throw a single meaningful pitch in the postseason. If anyone can motivate him to win tomorrow, Dusty Baker can.

At 13 over .500, this matches the high-water mark of the year (the Cubs were 83-70 after the first game of the DH last Friday).

I can't say enough about Kerry Wood's performance -- as dominant as he was last Wednesday against the Mets, he was better tonight -- only one ball was hit out of the infield, a fly ball out by Jason LaRue just after Wily Mo Pena (and what kind of silly name is that?) beat out a high bouncer to third for the only hit off Wood.

In a way, it was good to have the no-hitter broken up (yes, my son Mark jinxed it by talking about it, as did Chip and Steve, who were incessantly mentioning it -- don't these guys know better?), because Wood had thrown 122 pitches through seven, and if the no-hitter had been intact, Dusty would have had to let him at least try to keep it going. I hate the idea that he'd have gotten the no-no but been totally gassed at 140 pitches or higher. This way he'll be rested for the last game of the regular season on Sunday, against Kip Wells (and Jessica, who was in Pittsburgh on Saturday, got two Kip Wells bobblehead dolls. She promised to bring us one so we can cast a hex on it!)... or dare I say it, if the Cubs clinch something before Sunday, for the first game of the Division Series on Tuesday.

Yeah, I know I shouldn't say that kind of stuff; I'll have to say an extra "They suck!" or two at work tomorrow.

I wanted to call someone but I was too nervous. I wanted to post on the Cubs newsgroup but I couldn't tear myself away from the TV. So Mark & I just watched, and I once again had to remind my 8-year-old: it's not always like this. Savor every moment. This feels special.

Superstition of the day: I have a Cub schedule clipped from the newspaper last spring, which I post on a bulletin board to write each day's score. I've done this every year since the mid-1970's, and I keep a special pen set aside just to use on this schedule. Today, I went looking for that pen, in the spot I always keep it, and it was gone.

With the big win tonight, I'm not going to look for it for the rest of the season. I can catch up with posting scores when the regular season ends.

Let's win it. Hope looks skyward, laughs and grins, and is enjoying first place tonight.