I hate playoff baseball.
I really do, because a team like the Cubs has no advantage when going into the postseason. The best team during the regular season gets rewarded with absolutely nothing. Sorry, if I’m the best through 162 games I want more than home field advantage. Especially because baseball postseason series are basically a coin flip at the start, no matter what two teams are playing. Teams can build a contender for the regular season, but no one has figured out a strategy for assuring a better chance in the postseason. It’s a crap-shoot.
But damnit was that fun.
The inning had everything, yet it’s not like the Cubs finally broke out of a hitting slump and mashed. Besides the Zobrist line drive, everything else in that inning had eyes. Balls found holes. Kris Bryant’s ground ball trickled through a shift on the left side of the infield. Wilson Contreras’ ground ball took about fifteen minutes to get through the middle. Jason Heyward bunted into what should’ve been a double play, if not for a Gold Glover making his second throwing error of the game. Baez’s single was off the end of the bat, which was ironically better in the moment because it was hit so softly the center fielder had no chance of getting to it and throwing out Heyward.
Then the big dog ate. I haven’t gone back and checked, but I don’t think Chapman threw an off-speed pitch. Why would you? What are the odds he gets Connor Gillaspied again and someone turns on a 103 MPH fastball? If you don’t know exactly how hard that is to hit, I’ll put it to you this way. It takes roughly 0.4 seconds for a 100 MPH pitch to reach the batter (it’s actually less because Chapman is so tall). The average reader reads at 130 words per minute. If my grade school math is correct, that’s 0.46 seconds per word. So, by the time you’ve read any of the words on this page, the ball is past you.
Now imagine being in that Giants dugout. The game was won. You had the best team in the NL on the ropes, and your stupid “even years” streak was still alive. Your starting pitcher is out of the game after tossing a gem (probably the right move). In a matter of a half inning of baseball, your entire season, 164 games, is over. 164 games came down to one half inning where all of the statistics in the world said going back to Chicago was a virtual lock. That’s hard to stomach.
The Cubs went nuts, as they usually do even after regular season wins. My takeaway from the celebration is that Chapman was terrifying. He stood there like some gigantic statue. It took almost the entire team to even move him from the spot where Ross gave him a bear hug. He didn’t jump with the rest of the team, but instead had a look on his face that said “if any of you jump on my foot shit is going to get real.” I loved every second of it, and I can’t wait until Saturday.