It is cool and drizzly in Chicago today and as I was driving around my north side neighborhood, I noticed some of the leaves beginning to turn shades of orange, yellow and brown...
... just the thing to put us in an October mood, a playoff mood. When the Cubs take the field at Wrigley Field for game three on Saturday, the ivy should be showing some of those same brilliant shades, and we all hope the Cubs will be up two games to none.
Now, that's not a prediction -- just a hope, as we all hope that this will be the time, this will be the year of our redemption.
We are all older; we are all (presumably) wiser; we are all chastened and cautious and wary because we came... so... close... four years ago, and the manner and method of that failure was so spectacular. This will be the last time I'll talk about the 2003 postseason, because none of that matters now. There are only three players (Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, and Kerry Wood) who remain from the 2003 NL Central champions. The rest of the team, and its manager, weren't part of that, don't care about that, and even the three who were won't be looking back. They will, as we should be, looking at this as a clean slate. Each year is distinct. Each year brings new hope, new champions, new and unlikely heroes (who would have thought, on October 1, 2006, that the Cardinals, who wheezed into last year's postseason, would have won the whole thing -- and with someone like Yadier Molina as the NLCS hero?).
The Cubs' postseason record, as we all know, is pretty poor. Since divisional play began, the four postseason appearances have resulted in one series win, four series losses, and a total record of 9-16. It's time to turn that around.
I'm leaving for Phoenix tomorrow morning to attend games one and two, and it seems a fair number of you may be there -- look for me in section 135 at Chase Field.
I'll have more thoughts on the series tomorrow, including a more detailed look at the two teams, but for now, let's revel in our division title, look forward to more wins to come, and at last, win this thing. Go Cubs.