The Cubs have bigger issues on the table, no doubt.
Such as: Whom should they be hoping to meet in the divisional round of the playoffs — the Giants, Cardinals or Mets? What’s the smartest way to go with the pitching rotation? Which bench guys will be squeezed out of the postseason picture?
Yet there’s another issue we’ll dare to throw out there. It’s kind of smug and superficial to even ask the question, but what the heck:
Where’s the best place for the Cubs to clinch the division title?
Is it in St. Louis, where the Cubs — whose magic number is nine — play three games against the second-place Cardinals starting on Monday? It would be a delicious rivalry twist for the Cubs to celebrate at Busch Stadium, where the home team will be desperately trying to hold on in the N.L. wild-card race.
Or is it better that the Cubs lock things down during the ensuing seven-game homestand? The opponent would be the lowly Brewers or Reds, not that the party people in the Wrigley stands would mind.
You know you have a preference. Come on, admit it.
It’s OK. There’s no wrong answer.
Up: On the heels of a 42-game stretch in which he belted only a pair of home runs, Anthony Rizzo jacked three out of the park in the last two days of the series in Milwaukee and came within a highlight-reel catch by Keon Broxton of adding a fourth. Who says Rizzo’s MVP candidacy is dead?
Down: Somebody might want to give No. 17 a nudge and let him know September has started. Since his brilliant August, Kris Bryant has zero extra-base hits and only one run driven again in 25 at-bats.
Up: The Cubs haven’t always been the best team in baseball. Believe it or not, there’ve even been some lean years along the way. Take 1931 to 2015, for example.
OK, so not all those seasons were bad, yet the Cubs’ next victory will give them 90 wins in back-to-back years for the first time since 1928, ’29 and ’30.
1 THROUGH 9
1. Cubs: Eighty-nine victories with 23 games to go. What number did you pick in the regular-season-wins pool?
2. Nationals: Daniel Murphy has the pedal to the medal in his drive for N.L. MVP, though the Nats remain far more concerned about Stephen Strasburg’s ailing right arm.
3. Dodgers: Only 10 runs allowed over their last 10 games, all victories. San Francisco can pretty much forget about winning the N.L. West.
4. Rangers: Rougned Odor — coming off a seven-game stretch in which he had 17 hits with six homers and 16 RBI — is quite the power puncher.
5. Indians: Followed up a rough road trip with an 8-2 homestand. The A.L. Central race (has there even been a race?) is all but over now.
6. Red Sox: Still with 20 games to go — beginning Friday in Toronto — against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees. You rule, September.
7. Blue Jays: Well, that A.L. East lead sure was nice while it lasted. Getting swept at Yankee Stadium in September used to be more understandable.
8. Mets: Their pitchers are dropping like flies, yet somehow these guys have been in refuse-to-lose mode for three weeks solid. Impressive.
9. Orioles: After six games in Detroit and Boston, what are the odds they’ll still be holding on to a wild-card spot?
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