pnc parkI have never written about the Cubs in the postseason, having started BN in the winter of 2008 (after the playoff sweep). October, then, always has an odd feel to me. I call it my “down” time of the year, though two of the last three Octobers have been filled with a non-player search of some kind. In any case, every October, I can’t help but wish it wasn’t my “down” time. I’d love to be covering some playoff baseball …

  • To that end, but not involving the Cubs, there was playoff baseball last night, as the Pirates beat the Reds 6-2 in the NL Wild Card Game. I’d reckon most around here are happy about that outcome, what with the general distaste for the Reds and the pat-them-on-the-head-they’re-so-cute feelings for the Pirates. The Pirates jumped out to an early lead, and the game never really felt like it was in doubt (except for a few seconds before a would-be three-run homer off of the bat of Todd Frazier curled just foul). The Pirates will now face the Cardinals in a best of five to head to the NLCS. Safe to say we’ve all got the same rooting interest?
  • At one point in last night’s game, the collective Pirate fandom in attendance chanted “Cueeeee-toooooo,¬†Cueeeee-toooooo” and Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto literally dropped the ball on the mound. He gave up a homer on the very next pitch. Coincidence? Maybe. Distracted? Maybe. Whatever the case, that was a crowd that was *into* it, and I am happy for Pirates fans today.
  • Brandon Phillips says the Reds choked, for whatever that’s worth.
  • MLBTR takes a look at the Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players, something I also plan to do, but MLBTR is well-staffed and fast. So, while you await my take, go ahead and give their version a look.
  • Jim Callis with a very early look at the top of the 2014 MLB Draft, in which the Cubs will pick fourth. For now – and things can always change over the course of another amateur season – the 2014 draft is believed to be better and deeper than the 2012 or 2013 iterations.
  • Jesse Rogers reviews the Cubs’ infield.
  • A humorous look at the faces of Dale Sveum by the Tribune (you have to scroll down).
  • (In case you’re wondering, yes, there is a ton of managerial search stuff to discuss today. That’ll get its own attention.)
  • Chad

    Got a link to the Callis piece?

    • Brett

      Whoops. Fixed. Thanks.

  • Spoda17

    It made me smile when Phillips flubbed the double play… that was a big point in the game. I used to think he was an okay guy (but a big baby) with all of his twitter contests and “fan” interest, but after his rant in the locker room with the reporter, I just really don’t like that guy…

    Okay, I really never liked the guy…

  • Curt

    Great for the pirates ,don’t like the reds and ol dusty, howeva am I wrong in thinking tht 1 game isn’t right at least make it 2of3 thts not tht many more games and for playing 162 a1game dismissal seems a little quick.

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah the one game play-in has its disadvantages but it does give two teams and especially their fans a taste of Game 7 Elimination playoff passion.

    • Chad

      I think you have to do a 1 game. If you do 2 or 3 games then it just strings it out for everyone else. You have other playoff teams that don’t play a game for a week, that’s not good for rust, and then you have issues with teams that may play an extra 3 games just getting more worn out. I don’t like the 1 game play in, but I don’t think it can be anymore.

      You going to the HC game against MSU this Saturday Curt?

      • praying the cubs get ready to win

        I will be there with lots of friends and family, go Spartans.

    • hansman1982

      A 2 of 3 scenario would cause the teams that won their divisions to sit out too long and be at a disadvantage to the Wild Card teams. As opposed to other sports where a week of rest is a good thing, in baseball it’s a hinderance.

      The 1 game play-in is the best scenario because it puts the WC teams at an actual disadvantage to the division winners.

      • C. Steadman

        agreed, i like the one game making the wildcard teams dual it out…there was so much passion last night and looking forward to Clevelands fans tonight, definitely an underrated baseball fan base…heck even the Rays v Rangers game was awesome to watch and it was a play-in game to the play-in game

    • Jim L

      Theo had an interesting solution to the wild card round.

    • Funn Dave

      Oh I agree, the one-game wildcard series are completely stupid. It vastly increases the chances of a fluke. Not to mention, if the majority of the regular season is one- or two-game series, how does it make sense to need to win even fewer than that to win a postseason “series”? And don’t be deterred by the “resting is a disadvantage” arguments–there are plenty of ways for players to stay limber besides playing in an actual MLB game. MLB just does it as a one-gamer because it gets the most viewers that way, as elimination games tend to do.

      • hansman1982

        If we are just going off what is normal for the regular season then the traditional 5- and 7-game series should also be abolished since you never play series of these lengths in the regular season.

        Idea 1A of the WC was to increase fan attention. As a sport, you always have to be doing what you can to get more fans to pay attention to your sport and that is a reason why football has become popular. Each game carries much more weight and the playoffs are do or die time. In baseball, unless you get to a game 7 scenario, casual fans will be less likely to tune in.

        Idea 1B of the WC was to put the Wild Card teams at a disadvantage. Sitting out lengthy times is never good and there is no way to remain game sharp outside of playing games. This is why teams have rehab stints. If you expand to a 3-game series for play-in that immediately puts the division winners out 4 days while a team like the Rays may have just played all 4 of those days. This would also lead to a disparity with the regular season as you only have 1 break like that.

        I love the new system and wish baseball could do something to shorten the playoff series to make each game more exciting.

        • jh03

          One system that Mike Ferrin talks about a lot is doing a 3 game series in 2 days. Lower seed WC team plays at home for game one, then you go to the higher seed the next day (Would be best served as a Friday/Saturday) for a double header. This effectively puts the WC teams at a disadvantage and doesn’t have the division winners sitting for too long. Also, it’s a bit more fair than just a one-and-you’re-done “series.”

    • Kyle

      Win the division and you don’t have to worry about it.

  • Cubbie Blues

    “I have never written about the Cubs in the postseason”
    Sure you have, the Cubs just haven’t been in said postseason.

  • MichiganGoat

    Yeah watching the Pittsburgh fans during that game was great and although I’m not a fan of a one game playoff it did add a nice game 7 feel and the Pirates really embraced the moment. Can’t wait to see that (and hopefully be there) when the Cubs have those moments one day.

  • itzscott

    These draft picks will all ultimately pay off for the Cubs. With a deep talent pool and the #4 pick, the Cubs will likely be able to draft someone of the same upside as Bryant at #2 this year.

  • macpete22

    I wonder if the Cubs will go for a college arm or even another college hitter (Turner) to get them to Wrigley sooner and help speed up the rebuilding process. I know it’s too early to really think about but I’m intrigued

    • Chad

      It will be interesting to see what happens, if somehow Rodon falls to the Cubs they would have to take him unless he had an arm injury. I do believe they go pitcher first pick unless Trae Turner or the HS catcher just has a phenomenal spring.

    • cub2014

      #5 Jackson is a HS catcher, supposedly
      very big upside. that’s where I would go.

      • macpete22

        Me too I think. He just seems like a Theo guy

      • ssckelley

        I love the idea of drafting Alex Jackson at #4 as the Cubs have a huge hole in the organization at the catcher position. But keep an eye on Rodon’s teammate Trea Turner if he is available at #4 he would be tough for the Cubs to pass up on. He has a nice combination of speed and power and is still growing into his 6’1 frame.

  • Kevin

    Put PNC Park on your bucket list, it’s by far, the best ballpark in the majors, Wrigley Field included. The announcers said it perfectly last night by saying “They did such a wonderful job building PNC Park that it almost appears they build the city around the ballpark”

    • Mrcub1958

      Totally agree. A must see for any baseball fan.

    • Rich

      PNC is awesome..but so is Nationals and gulp ( St. Louis )…really great places to watch a the tour if you are ever around those ballparks..

      I got to throw my 57 MPH fastball in the bullpen at Nationals..
      My 11 year-old threw 62…( CRAP ! )

      • CubsFaninMS

        Ha! That’s good stuff.

    • YourResidentJag

      Coors Field–also great.

    • baldtaxguy

      Good to know. It looked great on tv and the fans were so into the game, it was fun to watch.

  • mr.mac

    I’ll never forget the atmosphere in Wrigley to start the 08 playoffs. It was like, “what’s going to go wrong this time?” This was before the game even started. We as a fan base need to have more positivity the next time the Cubs get in. The players definitely “feel” the crowd’s energy, good or bad.

  • Brains

    I like the Pirates’ story, and I’m glad they beat the Reds. Pirates or Tampa this year if it’s not going to be the Cubs. Actually the “plan” dictates that it will never be the Cubs, so we might as well double up our support for a good AL team. Go Rays!

    • Brian Peters

      So, the “plan” is for the Cubs to never make it to/win a World Series? Wow, I thought I was filled with negative thoughts.

      • MichiganGoat

        This is just Brains doing non-Brain baiting… ask him about the lawsuit that Ricketts has with the city.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I’ll bite. Brains what is this lawsuit thing about?

  • Cubbies4Life

    Yeah, the Pirates were just flat-out ON last night. And Phillips’ fumble of that grounder was the high point of the game for me. What a douche. The crowd was into it like it was the 7th game of the World Series – made me sigh and hope that someday a crowd like that will be dressed in Cubbie blue! (sigh… again…)

  • Brian Peters

    Okay, don’t tease us, Brett….lol. Get to the good stuff. I have been awake for three hours, hitting refresh on this page and trying to get the scoop (A scoop?)…..I’m feenin’….

  • Cubman

    Does Dusty’s contract expire this year or next? He might be available. (kidding)

    • YourResidentJag

      Maybe the Cubs can rehire Jim Riggleman. :)

      • SalukiHawk

        Of all of the former Cubs managers named Jim we could rehired, Riggleman would be at the bottom (well above perhaps Essian).

        • YourResidentJag

          Yeah, it’s a joke.

  • Chris84

    Brandon Phillips says a lot of things.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Whether it be luck or excellent scouting, you have to give them some credit. Our third basemen combined hit 30 home runs this season! Can you recall a scenario in the past where a team had three players starting at third throughout the course of a season with that type of power? I can’t. Valbuena, Ranson, and Murphy were not full-time, everyday third basemen but…Valranphy… turned out to be a pretty good one! Hey, you have to pick your brights spots in a 96-loss season.

  • On The Farm

    While Pittsburgh is the nice feel good story of the post season, I can’t help but think this will only go to strengthen them as the bully of the NL Central going forward. Granted I want them to beat the Cardinals, but I am also worried that they may be here to stay.

    Not going to lie I really think a Red Sox-Pirates would be a cool WS matchup.

    • ssckelley

      The Pirates have a strong farm system and have a strong core of young talent that they have control of for quite a while. No doubt they will be a team to contend with in the central.

      I am pulling for an A’s/Pirates World Series.

  • ssckelley

    In taking a look at next years draft order I have to question what were the Brewers thinking in going on a hot streak at the end of the season. They entered the last series against the Mets competing for the #6 spot to wind up drafting #12. They beat the Mets 3 out of the last 4, even a split would have gotten them #8. I love it!

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I was reading the Card Talk site on the St. Louis Post Dispatch this morning. A lot of people were saying how disrespectful the Pirates fans were last night in taunting Cueto, and that would never happen in Busch Stadium. Cardinal fans just get weirder every day.

    • Thom

      I am unofficially touring all the ML ballparks in the country and have so far been to 2/3 of them. While I too am rooting for the Pirates this year, their fans were BY FAR the rudest, crudest I have yet encountered. That said their ballpark is spectacular!

    • mjhurdle

      i love the Cardinals fans obsession with thinking they are somehow different to other fanbases.
      Every fanbase has a lot of great fans (well, maybe not Miami :) ) and every fanbase has idiots.
      I live in STL too, and i go to Busch often. I have had great experiences there, and also had beer dumped on me and my 9 year old son at a Cubs-Cards game there.
      I try to stay away from generalizing a fanbase on one good or bad example, and that what makes it so weird that the Cardinal fanbase somehow thinks they are immune to having the idiot fans that other teams do.

    • MichaelD

      I have to say that I kind of agree with the Cardinals’ fans on this one, with the exception that Cardinals fans, though generally polite and respectable, are not quite as polite and respectable as they call themselves.

      The only time I can remember a similar reaction as Cueto received to a player was Strawberry, and he was treated that way because he was a jerk, or at least perceived to be. I think there may have been similar situations with Sheffield in Milwaukee and other players who have left teams.

      My other reaction is that if Cubs fans had acted the way the Pirates fans had, we would have been criticized by the entirety of the media.

  • Curt

    You bet chad haven’t missed a home game in 10 years

  • Curt

    24-14 hawks You going chad. And as far as just 1 game seems harsh to be out in 1game after 162 is all I didn’t say it was practical to play 2 out of 3 just isn’t fair to play just 1

  • arta

    will dusty blame Chicago for this?

    one game is enough.

  • willis

    I have to be in Cincinnati for four days next week. So glad they got bounced already, I wasn’t going to be able to stomach them in the playoffs while I had to be there.

    On the other hand, I agree, regardless of the cubs’ improvement, the Pirates and Cardinals are in great position to stay atop the Central for years to come.

  • baldtaxguy

    Playoff baseball is so completely awesome.

  • Justin

    I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about Byrd. He went from one of the most washed up players ever with no power or bat speed to a huge source of power and quick hands thru the zone. Wow.. Just wow. Holy red flags. I wish he had found this “fountain of youth” and the masking agent he used this yr when he was with the Cubs. Damn…