The Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday and that brought the Cubs magic number for best record in the National League down to one game. The Washington Nationals played the Pittsburgh Pirates later in the evening and lost meaning the Cubs have clinched the best record and home field advantage throughout the NLDS and NLCS.
Just like what happened when the Cubs clinched the National League Central, they once again clinched while they were safe and sound at home, possibly in their beds sleeping. While capturing the best record in your league isn’t normally celebrated as much as clinching the division title – I doubt we would have seen a human pile of players on the infield – it’s still a big a achievement for the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
It was only two short years ago that the Cubs had a losing record. In fact, as I’m sure we all remember oh too well, the Cubs had losing records for five straight years from 2010 through 2014. Last year marked the end of the Theo Epstein rebuild period with the Cubs winning 97 games, clinching the Wild Card and advancing to the NLCS, beyond the expectations of many who felt the Cubs had arrived one year earlier than expected.
Of course, now the expectations are quite a bit higher. Many believe that anything short of a World Series would be a disappointment. And why not, this team has had a remarkable year and they have one of the most talented ball clubs we’ve seen in a while. They have the top offense, the top defense and the top pitching in all of baseball. So, expectations should be high. That’s why Joe Maddon uses sayings like “Embrace the target” and “Don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure.”
Now the Cubs will await the winner of the National League Wild Card game. Here’s a look at the standings as of this morning.
w – clinched wild card, x – clinched playoff berth, y – clinched division, z – clinched division and best record in league
The Giants, Mets and Cardinals are all vying for the two Wild Card spots. If all three tie then there will be a playoff between them. Basically, team A plays team B, the loser then plays team C with the winner of that game playing team A. The Winner of that game – the Wild Card game – would advance to play the Cubs in the NLDS. Oh and they’d likely be starting their number three pitcher against the Cubs too. Of course, I’ve just completely oversimplified how a three-way tie would really play out but, for now, I just wanted to touch on it without getting into all the ‘what-if’ scenarios.
Bottom line is the Cubs will have home field advantage through the NLCS and that, my friends, is a big deal.