“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
The Chicago Cubs will put this theory to the test this weekend as they take on the St. Louis cardinals* in a three-game set to finish the regular season. It will be no easy task, as St. Louis is fighting to stay alive in the NL Wild Card race. As noted in last week’s article, there were no cupcakes the rest of the way, and that appears to have been prophetic (No Cupcakes For You). If the Cubs played .500 ball, Milwaukee would have to go 8-1 down the stretch to beat us. Milwaukee is now 5-1 in their last six, with a three-game series against the 64-95 Detroit Tigers.
Is anyone else nervous? Is anyone else a Tigers fan this weekend?
Currently, the Cubs sit at 93-66 and have a full-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs series with the cardinals* just became THE showdown of the season. St. Louis — the entire city, not just the baseball club — is aware that they can play spoiler to the Cubs’ stated goal of winning the National League Central. I have had it personally said to me more than once. Make no mistake, the team (and the fans) will give the Cubs all that they can handle this weekend.
For those who like to follow along at home, the Game Notes for today’s game help in the facts-and-statistics department. If you’ve never read the Game Notes, they are remarkably thorough and often eye-opening. Factoids abound.
The Cubs have played to a 6-5 record over the last 11 games with three to play, and it looks like Milwaukee is going to force the issue. If the Cubs play to that .500 mark, the Brewers can pass them with a sweep. If the Cubs go 2-1, the Brewers can tie the Cubs and force a one-game showdown for the division, winner-take-all. Clearly, the best solution for the Chicago Cubs is to go for the kill. A sweep of the cardinals* is the only way to guarantee the Central Division title. I’d be OK with that…
Joe Maddon likely would as well. According to Carrie Muskat, Cubs reporter for MLB.com, Maddon actually delivered his post-season message to the team a few days early. For those of you unfamiliar with Maddon’s meetings, he only holds three team meetings a year: once at Spring Training, once at the All-Star break, and once before the playoffs begin. In his press conference, Maddon stated that this “really is the start of the post-season.”
That’s right. The Cubs’ work is not finished in this regular season. The man who is behind the movement to “Put the Art Back Into THEE Game” through his Respect90 charity is aware that their stated goal is still unaccomplished. Joe Maddon’s artwork has been on display all season. If you’ve seen them, these works are a great mash-up of classic art and a classic game. But there is another kind of art that should be on display at Wrigley Field this weekend…
The art of war.
*The author has found tremendous difficulty in capitalizing the word “cardinals” and makes no apologies.