Chicago clinched the division last night, when the St. Louis Cardinals lost. Not exactly how you want to do it, since the Cubs lost their game earlier in the day to Milwaukee. A Cubs fan is almost as happy when the Cardinals lose as when the Cubs win, though - we'll take it.
It'll be at least a few more days before anyone else has a division title. The Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers could each win their divisions sometime in the next week, though it may take a bit longer. Cleveland would likely be next after that, unless Detroit gets its act together and beats the Indians a bunch of times in their 7 games over the next two weeks. The NL West and AL East might come down to the last weekend of the season.
As a Cubs fan, I'm naturally predisposed to look at ways that things could go wrong. So, here's some bad news:
- Since the Cubs last won the division in 2008, no NL Central champion has won the World Series.
- Chicago is likely to play the wild card winner in the first playoff round. The Giants, Mets, and Cardinals are the front-runners for that spot. Cubs combined record against those teams this year: 13-16.
- The Cubs haven't won an NLCS since 1945. Four attempts, four losses. (And the less said about 2003 in particular, the better.)
- The pressure. The Cubs are actually favorites to win it all, which adds the weight of expectations to the already pressure-packed playoff atmosphere. And of course just being the Chicago Cubs, with their 100+ years of losing, is a whole world of pressure all its own.
- Home field advantage is important in the World Series. Due to the (incredibly stupid) rule that the All-Star Game winner gets home-field advantage, the American League champion will have that advantage this year.
Having said all that...this could still be the year. Expect the worst and hope for the best, always a useful attitude, and especially for Cubs fans. Bring on October!