I really haven’t had to think about this concept in a decade. A literal decade.
Elimination number: 1.
The 2009 season was a farce from beginning to end, highlighted by the disastrous Milton Bradley signing, and punctuated by the expectation-laden Cubs going from tied for the division lead on August 6 to 11.5 games back in under a month. Now THAT was a collapse, baby.
But that was the last time I was following the Cubs in a season I expected them to win, but they were ultimately eliminated from postseason contention at some point during the regular season. With apologies to the 2010 and 2011 Cubs teams, my primary hopes back then were that the teams would be sufficiently terrible to force a change in the front office (mission accomplished!). The idea of “elimination day” in those seasons, or the rebuilding years that follow, just never even crossed my mind.
So it’s been a decade since I felt like I do today, waiting and expectant for the ugly inevitable: the Cubs are going to be eliminated from postseason contention in a year they were supposed to be quite good. In a year they had one of the top payrolls in baseball. In a year they were following up a 95-win season.
It’s weird, right?
A Cubs loss tonight to the Pirates (last night proved it’s definitely possible!) *OR* a Brewers win over the Reds (sure seems likely!), and it’s all over. “Officially eliminated from postseason contention.”
The epitaph for this year’s Cubs team is yet to be written, even as the vague contours started to come into focus as far back as Bryce Harper’s nut-punching grand slam. I guess I’ve got a little time yet to put it together.
But the final postseason nail looms tonight.
Honestly? I kinda just want someone to swing the hammer with authority and end it tonight. Here’s hoping there’s no one on base or they might miss. HI-OH!