Wrigley Field was party central Friday
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This might be the most fortuitous, forward-thinking bond on the mighty Cubs: manager Joe Maddon and his advertising contract with Binny’s Beverage Depot.
The championship champagne orders at Wrigley Field alone must be worth the deal.
Man, was the Binny’s product flying in the clubhouse Friday after the Cubs beat the Brewers 5-4 and celebrated their National League Central title.
Technically, of course, the clinching had come a little before midnight Friday after the Cubs lost to the Brewers and the Giants finally beat the Cardinals in San Francisco.
But by then the Cubs had all gone home, and it’s like a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it; is it a Cubs championship if Jon Lester isn’t spraying champagne down David Ross’ neck?
‘‘We don’t take our parties lightly,’’ Lester said as the celebration raged around him.
Lester, of course, is one of the three Cubs pitchers good enough to win this year’s Cy Young Award. And that superb pitching staff is one huge reason the Cubs should be looking forward to — let’s see — three more of these bottle-fests all the way past the World Series championship.
Win that crown after a 108-year drought, and you can bet Binny’s will be draining half of France and the Napa Valley just to get enough champagne to be shot off and poured down the gullets of thirsting Cubs players, front-office folks and thousands, nay, millions of dehydrated Cubs fans everywhere.
The last two-plus weeks of the regular season now mean almost nothing for the Cubs. In a way, that’s a very good thing.
They can’t lose their home-field advantage for the first round nor — if they play just middling ball — their home-field advantage up until the big stage they haven’t played on in 71 years (they lost in 1945, of course). Sadly, the American League won the All-Star Game, so the Cubs will be World Series visitors, per Bud Selig’s old, dumb rule.
The Cubs have a 94-54 record and have clinched the divisional title earlier than at any time in club history. If they win more than 100 games (all but assured), it will be the first time since 1910 they have done so (they won exactly 100 in 1935).
In truth, I have a burgeoning curiosity about that 1906-1910 half-decade, when the Cubs averaged 106 wins in 154 or fewer games. They played in four World Series and won two in that spell, the last title being — of course — in 1908.
Is it possible the current Cubs are ready to enter such a golden era, too? We don’t know, but they are loaded with talent all over the diamond. These last couple of weeks, then, can be the time for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to battle it out for the league MVP award. That trio of Cy Young candidates can go at it, too.
And there are other individual records to break, as well. Is the attendance record of 3.3 million, set in 2008, breakable? Maybe.
The Cubs have been around so long — since 1876 — that there have been some marvels and anomalies in the past. The 2004 team hit a club-record 235 home runs, for instance, with nobody hitting more than Moises Alou’s 39. When Sammy Sosa hit a jet-fueled 66 homers in 1998, the team only had 212. This year? The Bryant- and Rizzo-led homer hitters likely will have between 205 and 215.
So that stuff is fun.
But what about resting your stars a little? Or, conversely, what about resting them too much?
When a club is this far ahead of its competition, things can unravel almost silently. Chemistry and readiness are hard-to-discern qualities.
And what if a pitcher hurts his arm? It happens all the time. Personally, I have no clue how closer Aroldis Chapman throws 103 mph, ever, without his left wing falling off. But he does, so let’s assume it all continues well.
‘‘We don’t want to get lazy,’’ said Maddon, understanding a big concern. ‘‘I don’t think we will with this group.’’
Meaningful games will begin again Oct. 7, with the Cubs playing the NL wild-card winner. It could be the Mets, Cardinals or Giants in that round. The big dogs are the Nationals and Dodgers, leaders in the NL East and West, respectively. It seems the Cubs might play one of those clubs in the NL Championship Series.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Yes. But the Cubs have a near-perfect mix of kids and wily vets. And most have been to the postseason before. Like, last year.
‘‘We’re living the dream,’’ Javy Baez said in the champagne-soaked clubhouse.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.