A day late, and apologies for that.
It's funny that baseball has to wait basically four or five months before there's a charge in the air. Football's short season allow big games to be BIG GAMES anywhere on the calendar. The large playoff fields of both hockey and basketball don't really lend themselves to big games anywhere on the calendar until April. Sure, there's scraps for playoff spots, but deep down we know both those teams are playing for the right to get thwacked by a team that locked up its spot long ago.
Baseball has to wait, and I guess that's part of the beauty. There's a prologue and a story to tell over a length of time to lend more meaning. It's been diluted of late with the wild card spots, but sometimes you get what we have here this week and last week. No one wants to actually be in the coin-flip game if winning the division is an option, and while that doesn't seem like it's that much at stake for this series against the Brewers, it kind of is. The last three World Series have not featured a wild card team, and five of six haven't. It can be done, but it's really hard and not likely.
This is as close as we get to pennant chases these days, so we should just take it. The temperature drop around town, the few leaves starting to fall, provide a crispness and electricity you don't get when you're sweating while brushing your teeth in July. There's a sense of urgency now, because the finish line is actually in sight. I'm sure the players get a little more energetic knowing there's only so far to go now. They can touch the end, where as I'm sure in July and August it feels like a lie they were told.
It's actually been a while since the Cubs played really well in one of these. 2016 they were so far out in front that they never had to feel like anything was riding that much on a series from July on. Sure, there was like that seven minutes when the Cardinals might have been spotted in the rearview mirror as a speck, and they put a stop to that right quick.
Last year, the Cubs ate it in a September series against the Brewers at home, which was disappointing if not crippling. They then won seven in a row, took three of four in Milwaukee a couple weeks later and that was just about that. Except by the time they got to Milwaukee, it was already kind of decided. They were up 4.5 games with merely 10 to go. It was a capper, not a statement.
We know the Cubs lost two of three last week up there with a chance to end this discussion in a most satisfying style. Here's another chance, though that would take a sweep really. Only three games up with two and a half weeks to go is not a padlock on the door, exactly. It's good, and you'd rather have it than not, but you'd like to see the Cubs surge before this Thursday game doesn't actually get played (and it won't, I'm calling it now).
The great thing is we get three of these, and you do feel like one can build on the other. It may not be that five-gamer against St. Louis in 2003, or the four-game sweep at the end of July in Milwaukee in 2008. But it's the Brewers, who have never stopped yapping, and their fans who have never stopped complaining all the while screaming they're not complaining. It would be sweet. So let's have it, whatever the amount of games in amount of days it's been. Sometimes, you just got to bloody do it.
-This weekend was truly a fiasco, and I don't know who it was meant to serve. Certainly not the fans, who either had to wait out three hours of a delay to be told there would be no more baseball, or sit through however many hours at the park on Saturday. Certainly not the Cubs or Nats. The Cubs have a clunky schedule and the Nats lost out on home gates and concessions and the like.
There are certainly things out of anyone's control, the weather being head of that list. Still, I feel like MLB goes on hope far too often. We know what the forecasts say, and it was clear that baseball was going to be nigh-on impossible on Friday and Sunday. Perhaps they're more afraid of the embarrassment of canceling a game before anyone even heads to the park and then having it not rain, because no one wants the Brewers to complain about them for years. But how often does that really happen? Yes, you have to get the games in somewhere and a double-header on Saturday was always going to be iffy. But would it have been less frustrating if Friday and Sunday had gotten bagged well before first pitch?
Unless MLB is positive there's a window and not just hopeful, I feel like policy in April can be used all season. We know that in April games get canceled in the morning or even the night before. If you end up looking silly, no one's going to complain about a day off except for fans who miss out, and they can get their money back if need be. There's a better way, it's just MLB refuses to see it.
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