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Time zones, extra inning losses and pennant races are a rough mix

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It’s still better to have something to play for right now

Steve Cishek walks back to the dugout after walking in the winning run in the tenth inning Tuesday night in San Diego
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

I don’t know about the rest of Chicago, but my wake up this morning was rough. The days are getting shorter which always saps my energy a bit, the Cubs are playing a four game series against the Padres in San Diego which means we are two games into three in a row that will start after 9 p.m. Central time, and last night’s disappointing loss was a three hour and fifty minute extra inning roller coaster ride with expanded rosters.

Across 10 innings, both teams each used 18 different players, including seven different pitchers. Both managers played matchups late, so there were a slew of lefty-lefty/righty-righty trips to the pen.

As you might imagine there was the usual grumbling about the start time, time zones, work schedules and everything else on Twitter, Facebook and here on Bleed Cubbie Blue. Some of it in the form of good-natured joking about being too old to stay up so late, some of it very realistic concerns about work obligations and alarms that would be ringing too soon.

It was the kind of game that I imagine MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has nightmares about. I picture him waking up in the middle of the night in cold sweats from the terrors of expanded rosters, extra innings and relief pitchers who are only used for a single batter at a time.

But you see, therein lies the critical difference between Mr. Manfred and those of us who love baseball and our teams: I would have given absolutely anything for that game to have gone on longer. It didn’t matter that it was 1 a.m. in Chicago, I was willing Steve Cishek to get those final outs with every fiber of my being so the Cubs would have one more shot to win it. I have zero doubt that if the game had remained tied as the clock edged closer to 2 a.m I would have wanted the same thing, although God only knows who would have been on the mound at that point.

This morning my alarm went off less than five hours after I went to bed crushed by a disappointing loss. The combination of lack of sleep and the letdown from a comeback that was so close, but just out of reach honestly felt like a mild hangover. However, unlike nights when I was younger where I followed up a night of excess with a firm resolve to go to bed early, today there’s been zero doubt in my mind I’m doing this late night dance all over again.

After all, the Chicago Cubs are in a pennant race for the fifth time in five years. Their playoff odds are roughly the same as they were yesterday. And there are very few things on this planet I love as much as Chicago Cubs baseball.

Meaningful baseball in September is a beautiful thing, even when it’s late and heartbreaking.