And there was no tomorrow.
You know the story already. Powered by back-to-back home runs in the first inning by Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud, the New York Mets finished off the sweep of the Chicago Cubs, beating the Cubs 8-3.
First of all, congratulations to the New York Mets. They dominated the Cubs over four games and the Cubs never led once in the entire series. The Mets scored in the first inning of all four games and while the Cubs would tie it up in a couple of the games, they would never lead. Are the Mets the better team? I'll say they were the much better team this week. No arguing that. They deserved to win.
After the four-run first powered by the three-run home run by Duda and the solo shot by d'Arnaud, the Mets added two more runs in the second inning when Duda, again, lined a two-run double into the right-center gap. It was 6-0 and the Cubs hadn't come to the plate a second time.
Jason Hammel only got four outs. I know a lot of people wanted Jon Lester to go on three days rest, but I think it was the right call to go with Hammel, despite his second-half struggles. The Cubs needed to win four straight games. Starting Lester over Hammel might have given the Cubs a slightly better chance to win tonight, but at the cost of diminishing the chance to win each of the next three. The plan just didn't work out.
The Cubs looked like they might get back into the game in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out. It helped that Jorge Soler doubled to lead off the inning. Not only was it the Cubs' first hit tonight, it was the Cubs first hit to lead off an inning all series. But then Starlin Castro lined a bullet that just had to find David Wright's glove. That was the story of the series. The Mets found holes. The Cubs didn't. The Cubs would get one run on a Kyle Schwarber ground out, but a major opportunity to get back in the game was gone.
Then Daniel Murphy happened again. A two-run home run in the eighth was his sixth straight game with a home run and put any realistic chance of a Cubs comeback out of reach. Kris Bryant would get those two runs back in the bottom of the inning, but the Cubs needed a lot more than that by that point.
Like last night, I'm going to ask everyone to be nice. We're all in a bad mood. We don't need to make it worse by sniping at each other. Vent, but not at each other.
As far as the Cubs go, the struggle goes on. Unlike other Cubs teams that have flamed out in the playoffs, this Cubs team is built to last. Almost all the key players are under 30 and many of them are under 25. This team will be back.
I know it doesn't feel this way right now, but this season was a success. The Cubs won 97 games in the regular season, which is the most that all but the oldest of you can remember. They beat the Pirates in the Wild Card game and knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs. We should not let this crappy week ruin six good months.
There are no curses. There is just baseball. It's the gambler's fallacy that the Cubs are somehow due, or that the wheel will spin our way because it spun the other way the last time. This Cubs team was good enough to win. They didn't. It happens. It will happen again. But this team is going to stay at the table for a long, long time. And no curse is preventing the Cubs' number from coming up eventually.
Finally, I'm reminded of the myth of Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to push a boulder up a hill. When Sisyphus approached the top of the hill, the boulder was enchanted so that it would roll back down. Then Sisyphus would have to go back down to the bottom and start all over again. That is our task. We embrace it.
Let me finish with a quote from Albert Camus from The Myth of Sisyphus:
It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock. . .
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
We will get that boulder to the top of the hill one day. I promise. Zeus has not cursed us. But until then, enjoy the ride. The alternative is a lot worse.