First Step Accomplished: Cubs Clinch Wild Card

First Step Accomplished: Cubs Clinch Wild Card

Cubs lose to Pirates
But thanks to a Giants loss
They are playoff bound

It would have been more exciting if the Cubs managed a come from behind win at Wrigley on Friday. But a few seemingly small things combined to prevent that from happening on Friday.

The wind was blowing in hard. So when Cubs bats connected, a few balls that might have reached the bleachers ended up in the gloves of Pirates outfielders. Then a dropped third strike in the 8th allowed Jordy Mercer to reach base for the Pirates. A few batters later Starlin Castro, in a play that is tough to second guess, decided to go to first for the sure out which allowed Mercer to score from third with what turned out to be a game winning insurance run.

I'm not making excuses - or blaming any individual play - for the Cubs loss. Just venting some frustration because on Thursday night I had gotten what seemed to be a clear sign that we'd see a win at Wrigley to clinch a post season berth.

Like many season ticket holders, I've got a few partners who make it possible for me to afford my 2 seats in the grandstand. (The Cubs call it "Terrace Reserved Outfield", but I still call it the grandstand). One of those partners had the luck - or amazing foresight - to choose Friday's game before the season started. But when the Giants lost on Thursday and the Cubs magic number dropped to one, I began to consider spending Friday afternoon at Clark and Addison.

I normally watch from Seat 101 in Row 13. On Stubhub I found a ticket for Seat 103 in Row 12. I could watch the Cubs officially reach the playoffs while sitting as close as possible to my usual spot - an obvious indication, I decided, that there would be a big celebration at Wrigley on Friday afternoon and I needed to be there.

Despite the disappointing result, the Cubs showed once again why it's been so much fun to watch the team this summer. Facing one of baseball's best closers, Mark Melancon, the Cubs kept it exciting until the final pitch. A lead off double by pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia and a triple by Starlin Castro brought the north siders to within one run with just one out. A fly ball would have tied the game, but Soler and Baez were no match for Melancon who reached down for his nastiest stuff to notch his 51st save.

But just before the day ended (Chicago time) Oakland had defeated the Giants and the Cubs magic number fell to zero.

It's just the first step, but we're going to see the Cubs play post season baseball at least one year earlier than we expected.

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