RECORDS: Cubs 84-67 Brewers 81-71
GAMETIMES: 7:10 Thursday, 6:35 Friday, 12:05 Saturday, 1:10 Sunday
TV: CSN Thursday, WGN and ESPN Friday, Fox Saturday, ABC and TBS Sunday (Joy)
MILLER PRODUCTS SUCK: Brew Crew Ball
Well it’s here. The Cubs and Brewers have been doing this odd dance around and toward each other all season. It’s been middle-school awkward at times, as no one expected the Brewers to still be here, nor the Cubs really for different reasons. It started two weeks ago when the Cubs were beatdown and not paying attention, and now there’s no time for that. There is no net. There won’t be time to pull themselves out of a spiral if they vomit up their stomach acids again. They don’t need to sweep, or even win this series. For the Cubs, a draw will be a win. But that seems a much tougher task than it did before the Brewers waltzed into Wrigley and left with the Cubs’ balls in a jar.
To be fair to the Cubs, since that ass-whomping they’ve won seven of eight, against worse competition than the Brewers, obviously. So maybe it was something of a wake-up, as the Cubs have spent most of the season shrugging their shoulders and smiling knowingly whenever worry or criticism of their play came their way. Or it could have just been a bend in the schedule. Guess we’ll find out this weekend.
The Cubs also caught a break, almost literally, when Jimmy Nelson blew out a shoulder not even pitching. That could be huge in this series, as they weren’t anywhere near him two weeks ago. Having him go instead of rookies Suter or Woodruff could have swung this series to the Brewers, though neither have been terrible. Though maybe just scoring any runs this series should be the Cubs’ goal, as they sort of failed on that the last time they saw this outfit at home.
While Miller Park has usually been Wrigley North, and Cubs fans will have a presence, this will be something like the most college football atmosphere you can find outside of last year’s World Series. Both of these teams, whether they admit it or not, are fighting on two fronts and Brewers fans should be there and vocal. The Rockies are only a game ahead of the Brewers for the right to have Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez to dunk on your head for a game, which means they’re 2.5 behind the Cubs. If the Brewers cozy up to the Cubs in the standings by taking three or four in this, then all three teams are going to be eyeballing each other and figuring out the combinations.
I’ve written it too many times the past two months, even as the Cubs have racked up the best second half record in the majors. So I really shouldn’t be as angsty as I’ve been. But I don’t need all the quotes of “everything is going to be fine,” and “we’re not worried,” anymore. Now it’s staring the Cubs in the face. The season is right here. If they’re so sure they’re the best team in the division, go out and play like it and end this. Demonstrate just how much farther the Brewers have to travel before they can sit at the grown-ups table. Otherwise the Cubs haven’t been confident. They’ve been naive.
Do the fucking thing, and let’s move on.