In the end, of course, it doesn't matter how a team gets into the postseason. I couldn't even tell you whether any World Series champions in recent years, or ever, clinched their postseason spot because another team lost.
But that's what happened for the Cubs, most or all of whom (I hope!) were sleeping when the Athletics defeated the Giants 5-4 just before midnight Chicago time Friday. Chris Coghlan, for one, said he wouldn't stay up to watch:
"No. I won’t," outfielder Chris Coghlan said. "I’m going to get rest. We play at (12:05 p.m.)."
Good for Coghlan and anyone else on the ballclub who understands the need for rest at this time of the season.
For the Giants, they continued their weird alternate-year pattern of the last several seasons:
2010: Won World Series 2011: Missed playoffs 2012: Won World Series 2013: Missed playoffs 2014: Won World Series 2015: Missed playoffs
At least they give someone else a turn every other year. Perhaps it'll be the Cubs' time this year. They won't be celebrating clinching a postseason spot on the field, but a win Saturday afternoon over the Pirates would be useful in any case, for any number of reasons. You can be sure that Joe Maddon will rest a regular or two, because that's what he's been doing for the last month or so anyway. He certainly won't do what the Kansas City Royals did Friday night, a day after they clinched their first-ever A.L. Central title. The Royals started just a couple of regulars and nearly got no-hit by the Indians' Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco allowed just one hit, a seventh-inning single to Alex Rios, and struck out 15.
Of the Cubs' six previous postseason appearances in the divisional play era, just one was "backed" into. In 2007, the Cubs began a series the season's final weekend in Cincinnati with a magic number of 2. In the first game of the series, they beat the Reds 6-0. Following that, a large number of Cubs fans, myself included, headed over to a nearby hotel bar to watch the Brewers face the Padres. The Brewers had to lose for the Cubs to clinch, and when Trevor Hoffman struck out Rickie Weeks, the Padres won 6-3 and the Cubs had the N.L. Central title. (Check out who the winning pitcher was in that game, too.)
Congratulations to the Cubs on their return to the postseason for the first time in seven years. Barring a number of things happening that probably won't over the next week or so, the Cubs' playoff date will be with the Pirates in Pittsburgh Wednesday, October 7.
Can't wait. Meanwhile, the season continues; the preview for Saturday's game will post at 10 a.m. CT.