NLDS 2017: Cubs 3 – Nationals 2

(It is very hard to restart things when I break the habit.)

This is found money. This season rallied in the last third, with the Cubs’ rotation finally finding some of it’s 2016 form and the team immediately pulling away from the rest of division. It still felt like the worst of the least promising of the recent playoff teams. 2015 was fun to be there, 2016 is a juggernaut, 2017 is – well, some playoff baseball is better than no playoff baseball, but they came in as the third worst division winner and maybe Arizona and Colorado might edge ahead too. It’s still an experience, I’ve learned enough to know you don’t get as many of those as you’d like, so you might as well take advantage of them.

I took advantage of this one by going to the DC. I drove to St. Louis two years ago, I found away into a home game last year, and I finally talked myself into going to Washington this year. I’m too overwhelmed by considering all the possibilities (mostly negative) to actually make decisions as quick as could. I shouldn’t worry as much; everything off the field went the way I wanted. I saw a game i saw a movie, I had meal, I rode Amtrak and Metra and uber and lyft without a hitch, and I didn’t get stuck in a boring airport for eight hours. That went well.

The stuff on the field, did not end well. The Cubs bullpen is a spiraling nightmare, one that will be the reason if the Cubs don’t continue to advance. Strop to Edwards to Davis was the plan, but can’t be any more. Edwards had no control of his pitches in that eight inning, and the ones which were getting over were crushed. It’s amazing he got a clean inning in Game 3, because he’s come back and looked broken in 4 & 5. Something broken, there’s no time to fix it, and there’s not a good alternative. Hector Rondon was added back to the team, and going from not being used at all to being in key situations doesn’t seem impossible right now.

Those eight inning home runs were crushing, but it didn’t kill me. Even the low points haven’t hurt this year after the last, and it would’ve felt like the Cubs were stealing games from the Nationals if they went up 2-0. The home fans were pleasant and I didn’t mind them winning. It ended up much more crushing for them.) Nationals Park seemed nice enough and modern – bigger concourses, all the seats turned towards the feeling – but lacking a distinctive personality or feature that makes it feel it own. If anything, it felt like some of the minor league parks I’d been too, with a kids play area and lots of specialty foods items and lots of encouragement to cheer as if the fans might not get into the game on its own. There’s still a new team feel, trying to sell people on a baseball game, which felt unnecessary for a playoff game.

I struck out in the Cubs NLCS lottery, so that’s probably the only chance I’ll get to see them this live this playoff run. It’d be fun if the Cubs could sneak out a few games from Dodgers, but they’re coming into this series as a mess. The only conversation I’ve been having about Game 1 is how the Cubs really ought to punt it; give every useful pitcher a day off, and see how many innings they can get out of Quintana and Lackey. Taking one out of two games in LA would be a giant success, taking four out of seven from the best team seems impossible.