So, the Cubs will be trying to avoid a sweep – and winding up tied in the standings with the Diamondbacks – today at the same time the Bears will be kicking off their season against the Packers. Quite an afternoon for Chicago sports fans. I am excited, hopeful, but also a wreck.
Both games are unquestionably important, but also probably subject to becoming a little overwrought because of the circumstances. I know I’ll be doing it to myself.
For the Bears, it’s a period of transition on both sides of the rivalry and we’re going to be prone to craft too many far-reaching narratives on the basis of a single game.
For the Cubs, it’s already their first series loss in a month, and a four-game sweep right now – to the team that had come into the series FOUR games behind them – is going to prime us to be looking for other shoes dropping. I get it. I will try to fight the urge. Hopefully the Cubs just win and re-start a good stretch.
The reality is that the Cubs *can* lose today and wind up more or less in the exact same playoff spot they would have. Today isn’t that kind of do-or-die situation. We’ve seen them bounce back this year from other rough patches.
A loss would create a problem that goes beyond today, though: with one more win, either today or in Arizona next week, the Diamondbacks clinch the tiebreaker over the Cubs, who’ve already lost tiebreakers to the Reds and Marlins, too. There is no more Game 163, so the tiebreakers – based on head-to-head season records – are everything if there is a tie to break at the end of the season.
If the Cubs were to lose today, then struggle more from here, and then wind up tied with any of the Diamondbacks, Reds, or Marlins for the final Wild Card spot, that’s it. Cubs are out. All because of these season series losses.
But, hey, no need to go there YET. The Cubs can win today. The Bears can win today. We could wind up very, very happy by tonight. That’s why we do this obsessive sports fandom thing, and I’d like to be very happy by tonight.