Chicago Cubs: Looking back on a historic night for North Siders
By Jake Misener
With a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs silenced their doubters, advancing to their first National League Division Series since 2008.
When Starlin Castro snagged the liner to record the 27th – and final – out of the National League Wild Card Game Wednesday night, I thought I’d lose my mind.
I did, about five minutes later, but initially, I just sat there on my couch staring at the television.
It’s not that I was overtaken with emotion. My mind was blank.
How do I even comprehend this? I think it’s because I genuinely expected a win against the Bucs, especially with Jake Arrieta on the hill. So, maybe it just comes down to the fact that, in my mind, we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
More than anything, though, I think it comes down to this: I was thrilled – ecstatic even – to see my beloved Cubs finally bring home a postseason win. I mean, it hadn’t been done since I was 12 years old, so to experience such emotion as an adult was really something.
My lack of outright exuberance, though, came from the fact that I see Wednesday’s win as a pivotal first step – but not the ultimate prize.
Getting through a one-game playoff is no easy task, don’t get me wrong. But getting through the Wild Card round when you can throw Jake Arrieta makes the task seem a little more achievable to both the team and fans alike.
Now comes the real test.
With a spot in the NLDS locked up, Chicago now heads to St. Louis to do battle with another National League Central foe in the St. Louis Cardinals.
Mike Matheny‘s club is coming off a 100-win campaign in which the roster was consistently decimated by injury month-in and month-out. That trend has continued right up until the postseason, as the Cards shut down Carlos Martinez for the year with arm pain and stiffness.
With Yadier Molina playing with his thumb in a splint from the last time the Cubs and Cardinals hooked horns, and Adam Wainwright seemingly limited to bullpen duty after working his way back from an Achilles injury suffering early this season, the staff is nowhere-near complete.
St. Louis is a tall task; it’s an organization that is dedicated to winning and does so on a perennial basis. Even at less than full strength, they’re a club that is a force-to-be-reckoned with.
But for this Cubs fan, it’s another step. Another step toward an elusive goal, an unheralded promise and an undisputed conclusion of a top-to-bottom organizational rebuild.
Bring it on.