When I was driving to work early this morning, this thirty-plus-year-old song came on the radio:
Dream yourself a dream come true
Dream on, dream on, dream on
And dream until your dream comes true -- Aerosmith
That's what we are doing, all of us, dreaming of more victories to come. With the magic number (I thought it was, at last, safe to return it to the sidebar) reduced to four, the division could be clinched as early as Wednesday in Miami (eerily appropriate, right?), or perhaps in front of what are likely to be huge Cub-centric crowds in Cincinnati this weekend.
A quick look at the potential matchups: the most likely scenario has the Cubs facing the Diamondbacks in the Division Series, with games one and two in Phoenix on Wednesday, October 3 and Thursday, October 4, before returning to Chicago on October 6 and 7 for games three and four; then, under the new playoff schedule, there would be another travel day before game 5 -- this is a good idea, I think. In the past there have been Division Series where teams have been forced to fly cross-country and play the next day.
The only way the Cubs could get the home field for the first round is if the Diamondbacks retained the best record in the NL, and somehow, the Cubs managed to finish with a better record than the NL East champion. At this moment, the Cubs trail the Mets, the current NL East leader, by four and a half games (the elimination number for this scenario is three, so it's very unlikely).
Further, the Cubs could wind up playing the Mets in the first round if the Phillies beat out the Padres for the wild card -- still possible, as the Phillies trail the Padres by only half a game. Even the Rockies still have a wild card chance; their win yesterday, their eighth in a row (setting a franchise record for wins), put them a game and a half behind the Padres. If Colorado should win the wild card, and the Diamondbacks retain the NL's best record, the Cubs would still play Arizona in round one.
This, then, will be an exciting last week of the season in the NL (the AL berths are all wrapped up -- only the AL East and wild card are to be determined between the Red Sox and Yankees, one will be the division winner, the other the wild card), with six teams within 1.5 games of a playoff spot (that includes the division leaders).
A brief word, if I may, about this site and postseason tickets. I have for the last three seasons provided a place on this site where people can exchange tickets. It's worked quite well for those with extras, who have been matched up with people looking for tickets, all at face value. I fully understand that some people may have playoff tickets that, for whatever reason, they can't use and want to sell, and wish to make extra money from them. That said, I cannot and will not allow BCB to be used for over-face-value ticket sale posts. I'm also going to ask all of you NOT to post diaries asking for tickets -- as you can imagine, that might quickly overrun the diary list. I have made a Division Series ticket exchange post, which is located in the Ticket Exchange section of this site (always located on the left sidebar). If it gets too crazy in there, I reserve the right to delete it.
Congratulations to those of you who got through and got tickets yesterday. If you didn't, remember this: the Division Series is just one of three playoff rounds; maybe you'll get lucky the next time.
In the meantime, there is still work to be done, a division to be clinched in the next few days, and as he has done all season, Lou Piniella has his team focused on that goal:
"But, look, the important thing is getting it done. So we're going to go to Florida on Tuesday and give it everything we've got, like we've been doing, and take our chances."
Exactly right. I wasn't in favor of Lou's hiring a year ago... but he's won me over. I don't think I've ever seen a Cub manager as prepared, as knowledgeable, as willing to make changes when necessary, as focused on the goal of winning, as Lou Piniella is. He has done a tremendous job, and was, in retrospect, exactly the right man to hire for this ballclub. Take a look at this quote from Pirates manager Jim Tracy that I've put in the quote box on the right sidebar today:
Focused and on a mission. Exactly right. Enjoy the off day. Go Cubs.