The Cubs tied with the Brewers this season for the best record in the National League, with 94 wins each. Unfortunately they're in the same division, so they had to play a one-game tiebreaker on Monday to determine who actually won the division.
You will be shocked to learn it was Milwaukee.
Now, normally, the 4th-place team in the league gets the Wild Card, but this year the West Division also had a tie, between the Colorado Rockies and L.A. Dodgers. Which meant that last night, the loser of that game (the Rockies) and the loser of Monday's game (ahem) played to break the Wild Card tie.
You will be shocked to learn that it was Colorado.
Note, if you will, that had the Cubs won exactly one more game at any point in the season, they would have won the Central Division and would play the Dodgers in the NLDS tomorrow night.
Nope. They choked. They couldn't do it, not even in 13 innings, losing 2-1 well after midnight.
This is why I stopped caring years ago.
This year, Major League Baseball had more weather-related postponements than ever before recorded:
In the 2018 season, 53 games have been postponed because of weather, tied for the second most since Major League Baseball began keeping track in 1986. It wasn't just rain-outs that disrupted the schedule but a lingering April cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast that resulted in 28 games postponed that month — an all-time high.
Although the baseball season got off to its earliest start ever to give players more off days during the 162-game regular season, rest has been elusive for clubs that have had to make up multiple games, including the Cubs, who have had a league-leading nine games scratched for bad weather (tied with the Yankees), the most in more than a decade.
While MLB’s collective bargaining agreement states teams cannot play more than 20 dates without a scheduled day off, the Cubs endured a punishing 30-day stretch of scheduled games in August and September. The make-up games also forced a rigorous travel schedule that, at one point, flung them to three cities, in three time zones, in six days, including scrambling to the East Coast as Hurricane Florence approached.
Scientists have pointed to climate change as a contributing factor to the warming of the atmosphere, carrying the chance for more rain in some areas since warmer air can hold more moisture. According to state climatologist Jim Angel, northern and central Illinois are experiencing warmer, wetter springs. But some scientists believe the rapid warming of the Arctic is causing fluctuations in the polar jet stream that can bring unusual bouts of cold like the region saw in April, Angel said.
Just one more unintended consequence of anthropogenic climate change, and possibly the reason the Cubs are playing a second tie-breaker game today for the right to take their league-topping 94 wins to the playoffs.
Yesterday, the Cubs and Mets played to a 1-1 draw at Wrigley when the game got suspended in the 10th due to torrential rain. (They resume in about 20 minutes.) My department bought us rooftop tickets, so we got to see most of the game between the waves of thunderstorms that preceded and interrupted it:
I got supremely lucky: the first wave of thunderstorms hit just as I was getting on the bus to go to the park, finished its deluge just as I got off the bus, and the second wave hit while I was on the bus going back home. So I caught the tail end of the second wave, but only a few drops between the bus and my house.
I'll update this post with the final score whenever they have one.
Update: The Cubs won, 2-1 in the 11th.
On 8 August 1988, the Chicago Cubs played their first night game at Wrigley Field. The Tribune rounds up memories from people who supported and opposed the installation of lights at the park:
Ryne Sandberg, Cubs second baseman, 1982-1997: Leading up to ’88, the talk within the organization was that lights were necessary to create a schedule more conducive to resting the home team, getting us out of the sun. Before that, with some of those 10-day homestands with all day games (it was) in 90-plus temperatures.
Rick Sutcliffe, Cubs pitcher, 1984-1991: There's nothing better than playing a day game and going home to have dinner with your family. But when you come back from a West Coast trip, and let’s say you had a long game … sometimes we went straight from the airport to the ballpark. It’s really difficult that whole homestand. You just feel wiped out. … I would throw nine innings at Dodger Stadium and might lose anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds. There were times at Wrigley Field during that heat that I lost 10 to 15 pounds. I would love to go start a game to lose 15 right now!
Did lights help the Cubs? Probably; but there's no definitive way to say.
It's the 99th day of 2018, and I'm looking out my office window at 25 mm of snow on the ground. It was -7°C on Saturday and -6°C last night. This isn't April; it's February. Come on, Chicago.
The Cubs' home opener originally scheduled for today will be played tomorrow. This is the second time in my memory that the home opener got snowed out. I didn't have tickets to today's game, but I did have tickets to the game on 15 April 1994, which also got snowed out.
(Cubs official photo.)
Because it's Chicago. (Actually, there's a blocking mass of warm air to the east of us causing a bulge in the polar jet stream and pushing cool Canadian air down into the U.S. That sort of thing feels really nice in July; not so much in April.)
I made sure to take a photo of this while walking home from dinner last night:
But, really, the sign should now say AC000101. Because the Cubs lost the playoffs. Again.
Well, that's it for the Cubs this year.
I haven't actually seen the Anno Catuli sign this season. If they haven't changed it to reflect last night's horrible loss to the Dodgers, I'll try to get a snap of it reading AC0000000. But officially, today, the Cubs have gone one year from their last World Series and pennant wins.
Fans are still in denial. But an 11-1 loss looks to me like the old Cubs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago has some epic binge drinking:
The data looked at the 500 largest cities in the country, split into more than 28,000 smaller areas. Large swaths of Lake View ranked in the top 1 percent for binge drinking nationally in 2014, the most recent year data were available.
The CDC estimates that in some parts of Lake View, more than a third of residents are engaged in binge drinking, which is defined as more than five drinks at a time for men and four drinks for women.
The CDC’s new local data fits in with what researchers have previously found about drinking at the state level. In 2014, 20 percent of Illinois adults reported binge drinking, compared to 16 percent nationally.
If you've ever seen Wrigleyville after a Cubs game, none of this would surprise you.
You couldn't script the game better: tied at 6 going into the 9th, then the 10th, then a rain delay, then a 2-run homer top of 10 followed by a nail-biting run and out to end the game. The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. And Chicago went nuts.
There are, as you can imagine, a ton of stories about it. The best I thought came from the Guardian, but of course the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and Chicago Public Media all had things to say. And let's not forget the Onion.
The New York Times explained how the Cubs did it. Crain's Chicago Business said the curse is finally dead. And the Washington Post provided context around how the world has changed since 1908.
AdWeek highlighted a Nike commercial that aired right after the final out. Crain's reported that the game had the highest ratings of any baseball game since 1991, and the highest-rated sporting event in Chicago history, with 40 million people watching.
DNAInfo chuckled that more people called in sick today than usual (myself included). We'll probably miss some more work tomorrow because of the parade, which starts at Wrigley Field and ends at Grand Park. Metra, our local heavy-rail system, is throwing every locomotive and rail car they have into the morning commute and tossing their schedules tomorrow, and asking people to work from home if they can.
It was an incredible night. I'm still amazed and agog. And hung over—but that's another story.