It doesn’t happen often, but, as September rolls on, it looks like the Chicago Cubs might just make it into the post-season:
CHICAGO — It’s the top of the ninth and a bright sun has broken through the clouds over Wrigley Field. The Cubs are on top of the Dodgers 4-2 after two electrifying home runs from leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano, imported from Washington for a zillion dollars.
The loyalists are fired up. It’s a Thursday afternoon game, yet nearly 40,000 fans are packed into the ancient ballpark. Ryan Dempster, the Cubs’ closer, who hasn’t blown a save since June 10, is on the mound.
Hope is alive in Wrigleyville. It is September, and at least on this Thursday, the Cubs are in first place in the tight National League Central. The lineup is star-studded and, boy, is it well-paid. After a miserable start under fiery new manager Lou Piniella, baseball’s strivingest, hardest-luck team is building buzz in the far-flung Cubs Nation.
“Hopeful, but cautious,” is how Don Surprenant put it, as he scored the game from the upper deck with a Cubs pencil.
This is a team that has not won the World Series since 1908. If they don’t win it this year — and the odds are surely against them — they will start spring training aware, if for no other reason than everyone will remind them, that no Cubs team has brought home a title in 100 years.
That’s a record.
As of this morning, the Cubbies are a game behind the Brewers in the NL Central, but there’s still a good deal of baseball to play.