Thursday, September 17, 2015


Cubs with a great slug fest win over the Pirates to win the pivotal road series in Pittsburgh: 3 games to 1.  You know it's a high powered offense day when your lead off hitter gets 6 ABs and Rizzo hits his 30th HR.  Not a strong performance by Hendricks, but it doesn't matter.

The win lowers the CMN for the Wild Card berth to 9 with the Giants idle today and the Cards playing tonight in Milwaukee.  Cubs start up an equally important series tomorrow at home against the Cards for a three game set.

While we here at CMN are always rooting for a Cubs win and a playoff berth anyway the Cubs can get it, some of us (89 Cubs mostly) have proposed the following question:

Are the Cubs better off on the road for a one game Wild Card playoff berth than being at Wrigley?

Before you dismiss this out of hand, here me out here.  The Cubs recent history of home playoff games has been dismal and having home field advantage in the 2008 NLDS and in the 2003 NLCS proved not to help.  You have to go way back to the tie breaker game in 1998  (which wasn't technically a playoff game as it was 163rd game of the regular season) to see a positive outcome for the Cubs playing with home field advantage in a postseason series.  In fact, since 1998 the Cubs playoff home record (including the '98 tie breaker) is 3-8.  To take it one step further, their home record in playoff games since '98 (including the '98 tie breaker) in clinching and win or die games is 1-5 with the lone win coming from that tie breaker game.

Why is this?  If you have attended any of Cubs home playoff game at Wrigley you know the answer.  The tension in the air as a result of the Cubs fans' negative air and imminent fear of calamity clearly affect the Cubs players and managers.  I've personally witnessed this at the 2003 NLCS as I was there for both games 6 & 7 (I won't remind anybody what happened then), at the one 2007 NLDS game vs the Diamondbacks and at one of the two home games in the 2008 NLDS.  The air was thick with the expectation of disaster and I KNOW it had an effect on the team and the managers.  

Dusty and Lou both underestimated this and ultimately fell victim to it and I fear the same for Maddon. I think the world of Joe and I think he's the best man for the job presently.  If anybody can buck this trend, he can.  However, I also don't think the team really understands what playoff baseball in Wrigley is all about....yet.  Can this inexperience on such a young team be an advantage? Possibly. And I hope it is.

However, think of the alternative. Why not have the one Wild Card game in Pittsburgh where their fans' expectations are even higher than Cubs fans presently based on their results last year?  They are EXPECTED to win.  Additionally they lost their Wild Card game at home last year, thus even further ratcheting up the pressure on them not to do it again.  

The Cubs this year, let's be honest, are in a bonus year.  We were not supposed to be here until a year or three down the road.  50% of the current roster wasn't even on the opening day roster.  

The Cubs are also an outstanding road baseball team and have just proven they can win in Pittsburgh. I'll take Arrieta starting on the road against any team, anywhere, any time.  Arrieta in the Wrigley postseason pressure cooker?  I'm just not quite as confident.

Can the Cubs win at home for the one winner take all Wild Card game?  It's baseball, so anything can happen.  Do I think their chances are slightly better on the road for this same game?  I think I do.

I say, let the kids stay loose on the road and continue to exceed everybody's expectations and beat the Pirates in Pittsburgh before taking on the Cards.

What do you think?  We'd love to hear your comments.

Go Cubs!


Anonymous said...

Jake is a gamer though- he is ready to battle.

Unknown said...

I really agree with you on this one - even now when you go to a game (or watch it in a crowd or even watch it alone) get that "when's the party going to end?" feeling. We can't quite accept the fact that this year is about skill not luck. This team is darn good!

I was at the last two division clinching games at Wrigley in 2003 and 2008 - and it was a very strange vibe indeed. People were at the same time elated and astonished to be in this position - it was not a confident vibe at all.

Never had the good fortune to attend an actual playoff game but I can imagine the crowd vibe is 1000% more toward the "hold your breathe and pray" end of the spectrum rather than the confidence side. That has to affect the players. I think an away play-in game would likely be a better scenario for the Cubs' psyche. Either way it's going to be stressful LOL!

MP said...

I hear what you're saying, but the Pirates are much better at home than on the road. I'd take the home game plus Jake for the win.

RFBleachers said...

I was at Game 6 of the '03 NLCS (yes, THAT game) and actually thought that the vibe was pretty positive -- confident -- until the 8th inning (damn you, Alex Gonzalez!).

Now in 2015, it's a (very) new team, a new manager, and -- given the fact that they've finished in last place for five consecutive years -- definitely that "bonus year" mentality among the fans.

I agree with Sean: I LOVE the Cubs' chances in an away game. No matter what, it'll be interesting, and I'm enjoying every minute of the ride!

Go Cubs!

Anonymous said...

In Dusty We Trusty and Fukudome's My Homie!

Anonymous said...

The difference between that home playoff record and this team is that in those games every player seemed to be carrying the weight of all of the years without a championship on their shoulders. This team is so young, they are either immune to that or just innocent enough that they don't seem to feel that at all. When this team screws up, they come back. Just my thoughts.

Unknown said...

I agree. This time feels very different. We're just all having fun!

Unknown said...

I agree. This time feels very different. We're just all having fun!