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Cubs Lose Season Finale To Astros 4-0

For those who said you'd be happy if the Cubs finished behind the Astros, hope you revel in the two additional draft pick slots the Cubs picked up.

Me, I'd rather they'd have won and finished the season with a winning record on the road and a winning record in the year's final 81 games, two things that aren't easy to come by. The Cubs' 4-0 loss to the Astros put them in fifth place with a 75-87 record and netted them the ninth pick in next June's draft.

There isn't a whole lot to say about today's loss except that Koyie Hill's error on a ball that he probably should have let roll foul helped lead to an unearned run, the Astros' second of the inning, and set the tone for the rest of the game, during which the Cubs left the bases loaded once and wound up leaving nine on base overall. That, apparently, was just to remind us of how poor most of this season was.

But instead of that, let's talk about some of the things that went right since Mike Quade took over from Lou Piniella on August 22.

The Cubs won eight series under Quade -- after winning only 11 in four times as many games under Piniella. They went 17-5 on the road under Quade and 24-13 overall and the entire tone of the ballclub seemed to change. Quade, a longtime minor league manager and major league coach, may have been given the job as a "thanks and attaboy" from Jim Hendry, but he has injected himself as a serious contender for the permanent job. As I have written, I'm still firmly in the Ryne Sandberg camp, but if Quade is hired, I'd be fine with that. He's earned the consideration.

The Cubs, in the final 37 games, also did a real number on the Padres' chances of making the playoffs -- at this writing the Padres are trailing the Giants 2-0 (here's the Gameday link if you want to follow along) and if San Diego does lose today, they can look back at the three games the Cubs took from them last week at a critical point in their season as one of the big reasons they didn't make it.

Me, I'm still hoping for the three-way tie that would be forced by a Padres win -- THEN they can lose.

It was a bizarre season with moments you wouldn't wish on your worst rival's fans. And it was a season of hope, with players like Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin beginning to give a glimpse into a positive future. In many ways it seemed appropriate for Sam Fuld to make the last out of this season -- much as some here, me included, like the way Fuld plays, he is unlikely to be part of next year's Cubs. Several others in today's game (Brad Snyder, Koyie Hill, Bobby Scales, Thomas Diamond, and Marcos Mateo) are extremely unlikely to return in 2011.

This site will continue to keep up with what is likely to be a memorably busy offseason for the Cubs. I'll open game discussion threads for all the playoff games -- probably single threads for the division series and LCS games, and then one each for World Series games, and also post any news as soon as I hear about it. The countdowns to the next spring training and regular season games in 2011 are already posted on the right sidebar.

And as I do every year, I'll finish the final recap with this quote from A. Bartlett Giamatti's The Green Fields Of The Mind, an appropriate way to end any baseball season, in the fading early fall sunshine:

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.