Closing Time: Cubs can do something for the first time in 109 years this week
ST. LOUIS – Here in Chicago, the idea of a “Three-Peat” was made popular by the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s when they pulled off a trio of championships in a row not once but twice.
While not the exact same thing, the Cubs are looking for three-straight of their own this evening. It’s something that hasn’t happened in 109 years.
With their Magic Number at 1, the team has the opportunity to qualify for the postseason for the third-consecutive time. That hasn’t happened since the team won the National League pennant in 1906 and then the World Series in 1907 along with 1908.
All the Cubs need to do is win one of their final six games or have the Brewers lose one game, and they’ll win the National League Central Division.
This would be just the second time the Cubs have made the playoffs three-straight years – and it’s rare they make it in back-to-back seasons at all. The only time they’ve pulled off two playoff appearances in a row besides the 2015 & 2016 were the division title years of 2007 & 2008 under Lou Piniella.
Tonight also gives the Cubs a shot to do something they haven’t in the Joe Maddon era – celebrate a playoff spot or division title clinched on their own. In 2015, the Cubs lost to the Pirates in a Friday game at home to clinch a playoff spot and got it when the Giants lost later that night. In 2016, the Cubs won the NL Central when the Cardinals lost to the Giants on the West Coast.
Each time, the Cubs did their celebration after the following day’s game.
A clinching would bring an end to an unusual year for the Cubs filled with inconsistent play and injuries after 2016’s World Series championship. Yet the team has found itself in the second half, erasing a sub-par first half with a 48-28 record that has them a season-high 20 games over .500.
That includes a 15-8 record in the month of September. A 16th win, and the Cubs go to the postseason again without having to worry about a Wild Card one-game playoff.
“We’re on the roller coaster of a baseball season,” said outfielder Jason Heyward of the unusual 2017 campaign. “That’s what this is. It happens ever year, every year is different. You’ve got to be able to handle each blow. Take the good with the good, the bad with the bad and I feel like that’s what we’ve done a great job with all year.”
Now it puts them in position to snap another 100-year drought.