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Can We Say This is a Must-Win Series? I’m Close, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

It’s Cubs Social Media Night (aka #CubsSocial), so I’ll be at a pre-game event at Brickhouse together with Michael and Luis, and then at the game in the right field bleachers. I hope to see some – or all! – of you tonight at one place or the other. I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop myself from wearing my Tsuyoshi Wada shirsey, so hopefully you can identify me among the thousands of other Cubs fans wearing the same.


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  • Depending on how far back you’re open to going to bookend a period of time, the Cubs are in a skid. With the Mets coming to town, there is going to be an inclination by some of you to point to the 2004 Cubs team, strengthened in the offseason after the 2003 disappointment, and collapsing in September. The finishing blow, at least in our memories, for that 2004 club was a blown save by LaTroy Hawkins thanks to an opposite field blast by Victor Diaz of the Mets (even though it was Ryan Dempster who walked two runners in that 9th inning, and it was Kent Merker who allowed the walk-off homer in the 11th). The reality of those 2004 Cubs, though, was that they were blown out of the NL Central long before that final two weeks of September, and finished a full three games behind the Wild Card team, the Astros, also coming from the Central. The landscape then, to me, feels very different than this season.
  • Which is not to say this year’s club is not impervious to losing their Central lead down the stretch, and that it couldn’t continue with this week’s series against the Mets. The match-ups will be favorable in the extreme, and the Mets are a battered, nearly-disintegrated husk of the team that had playoff aspirations at the start of this season. Maybe even more than being swept by the Brewers, not winning this series would be vein-poppingly frustrating.
  • When these teams faced off back in June, the Mets took two of three, pushing the Cubs a game under .500. Our general feeling looked a good bit like Jon Lester in the dugout:

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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  • Not that I’m going to belabor it, but:

  • The best part is his smile:

  • Can I just say that it’s awesome Barney is still in the big leagues, making a career for himself? When he departed the Cubs after a 2013 season that saw him hit .208/.266/.303 with a 54 wRC+, and a start to 2014 that wasn’t much better, it was fair to guess that a couple minor league deals later, and it would be over for him. But the guy kept grinding, put up much better (though still extremely soft) offensive numbers the next few years, kept playing fantastic defense, and contributed to the Dodgers and Blue Jays (dude likes wearing blue, I guess). Barney turns 32 this offseason and has had a brutal year at the plate this season, so it’s not clear what comes next. But the guy did it. He made over $10 million in his career, to boot.
  • I’m just over here dreaming about Shohei Otani, who also hit 101 mph in this game:

  • I like J.J. Abrams as a world-creator, but I have some reservations about him being the guy to finish off this story. I also was pretty disappointed with just how much re-making there was in ‘The Force Awakens,’ though in fairness that was undoubtedly by design and also probably not entirely Abrams’ doing.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.