The Rundown: Dealing With a Cubs-Less Postseason, Angels Perfect Fit for Maddon, Brewers Implode in Wild Card Tilt

I’m leaving for Dublin in a few days and taking a well-deserved break from baseball — and life in general — so I thought I’d let some of my favorite Irish authors frame my column today. I just can’t do another where-did-it-all-go-wrong piece. Join me in taking a nice deep breath, and please, don’t follow it with another heavy sigh.

  • “The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.” – James Joyce

I’m not handling a postseason that doesn’t include the Cubs very well. Have you ever been in a bar on a work night, right at last call, and you’re casing the joint for someone as lonely as you to accept your gift of a drink, or some semi-coherent conversation because, what the heck, misery truly does love company? That’s how I feel this morning. It will be fleeting — of this I’m positive — as I know I’m merely harboring jealousies of those fans whose favorite teams get to stretch their baseball seasons for another day, a few weeks, or even the rest of the month.

  • “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

One of the best things about writing a daily column that focuses on Cubs baseball is that, good or bad, there are so many conversation starters on any given day of any season. I’ve been a fan of this team for five decades and I’ve seen enough that nothing surprises me. It’s easy to be frustrated right now, but there was a time when the expectations of victories, pennants, and championships seemed impossible.

Before this era of Cubs baseball, you would have had to have been alive for the 1906-11 seasons to see similar long-term success. That’s unfathomable. This current stretch won’t last forever, so enjoy the present despite this year’s shortcomings. There will inevitably be any number of 70-win seasons down the road that will eat at our flesh and destroy our souls.

  • “Do ghosts drink tea?” – Roddy Doyle

Things could be worse. You could be a White Sox fan with nothing significant to read about for months at a time, season after dreary season. The South Siders are still more famous for throwing the 1919 World Series than anything else, (though I will reluctantly admit that the 1977 Hitmen squad was one of the better things about ’70’s Chicago baseball).

And to think, MLB is going to celebrate Chick Gandil and all his cheating buddies by staging a White Sox-Yankees game at the Field of Dreams movie site next season. “I’m forever blowing ball games, and the gamblers treat us fair…”

  • “Writing is mostly a case of mood management. The emotion you have is not absolute, it is temporary.” – Anne Enright

How long will it take for us to rev up the hype engine for the 2020 season? When Theo Epstein announces his new manager? Or will it be something less grandiose in nature, like releasing Addison Russell?

  • “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

At the start of each season, fans of most MLB teams will greet spring with wide-eyed aspirations of 90 or more victories and a chance for their team to emerge as world champions. But there is only one crown, which means ultimately, a lot of people will share in the same disappointment we are feeling right now. Maybe Ricky Bobby said it better in the movie Talladega Nights – “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” It feels that way, anyway.

  • “Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker.” – Bram Stoker

Epstein said the Cubs have to conquer what he calls “the winner’s trap” as he begins to either fine tune or overhaul the on-field product. Feel free to admit to being slightly nervous that the quote from Stoker’s Dracula was basically paraphrased by the Cubs president of baseball operations in Monday’s presser.

Cubs News & Notes

MLB Playoffs

Brewers closer Josh Hader imploded last night thanks to poor command, some shoddy fielding, and questionable calls as the Nationals rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Milwaukee 4-3. Washington will travel to Los Angeles to meet the Dodgers in the divisional round starting tomorrow night. The previous three NL Wild Card Game winners combined for a single victory in 10 NLDS matchups.

The A’s will host the Rays tonight in the AL Wild Card game. Oakland has lost eight consecutive win-or-go-home games, all in the Billy Beane era, but they finished 52-29 at home this season, fourth best in baseball. The A’s are expecting nearly 50,000 fans for the first home playoff game since 2013. The Rays counter with 48 road wins, the second-most in the majors.

Wednesday Stove

This Joe Maddon-to-the-Angels story line is almost too perfect and comes with a dastardly caveat: Maddon may be the X-factor owner Artie Moreno needs to lure free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole to Anaheim. Don’t forget, Moreno once gave Mike Scioscia a 10-year contract to be his manager.

Dayn Perry of CBS Sports says that Maddon to the Angels is “likely to happen.”

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy says that it is unlikely that Boston will be able to retain J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts next season.

Extra Innings

Time hasn’t done any favors for former Angels’ pitcher Jered Weaver.

They Said It

  • “As a bench coach in Anaheim I used to sit down below with Sosh (Scioscia) on that little area, and then when you’d get up on top, it was an entirely different vibe, man. Two, three steps up, it’s a different vibe. You feel everything.” – Joe Maddon

Thursday Walk Up Song

Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham. One wonders where Papa Joe’s RV “The Cousin Eddie” will take him next, and we may know that answer any day now. Going from Chicago to Anaheim would be so Griswold-apropos.

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