Cubs, fans celebrate clinching playoff spot in Wrigleyville

Diane Pathieu Image
Sunday, September 27, 2015
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The Chicago Cubs have clinched a spot in the 2015 post season after the San Francisco Giants lost to the Oakland A's Friday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Cubs clinched a spot in the 2015 playoffs after the San Francisco Giants lost to the Oakland A's Friday night - and the celebration went on all day Saturday in Wrigleyville.

The Cubs will most likely play the Pirates in a one-game wild card playoff on Oct. 7 in the team's first postseason appearance since 2008.

The Cubs came up just one run short of clinching the spot themselves Friday night with a 3-2 loss to the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

For Cubs brass, this is the first of what they hope will be several celebrations in the coming weeks.

"It also feels like a beginning," said Cubs President Theo Epstein. "I don't feel like this is the ultimate goal. Nobody set out to just get into the playoffs. We want to win a World Series."

"It's amazing, the Cubs really look different this year, I mean in other years you think it's not the time, but this year you think it's the time because they're such a new team this year - Joel Maddon, Jake Arrieta playing as great as he's been playing, it's a great year to be a Cubs fan," said David Chasanov, a Cubs fan.

The Cubs fell to the Pirates again 4-0 Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

"Cubs fans are diehard fans, there's always next year - it's a good year. We've got a good coach, we've got good players, and I think there's a good chemistry this year. He's a player's coach," said Kelly Butler, a Cubs fan.

The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908 and the road back to the postseason for the first time since 2008 was a difficult one. Chicago endured five straight losing seasons before this year and a top-to-bottom overhaul.

But on Saturday, the Cubs were tipping their caps as fans roared following a pre-game video tribute.

"The feeling around Wrigleyville and in Chicago now is one that hasn't been here for a long time," said NL Cy Young Award candidate Jake Arrieta, who watched the San Francisco-Oakland game with Dexter Fowler. "I'm just happy to be a part of it with these group of guys and the people, the fans, that are behind us."

The Cubs began loading up the minor league system almost as soon as Epstein was hired in the fall of 2011, and it paid off in a big way.

Young players started to make their way to the majors last season. The Cubs then made it clear they were serious about winning when they hired manager Joe Maddon and signed Lester in the offseason.

Besides those big additions, there were the arrivals of All-Star Kris Bryant, slugger Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell, who arrived from Oakland in the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to the Athletics last season.

All three debuted this season. And all three made a big impact.

"We have full trust in, first of all, Mr. Ricketts (chairman Tom Ricketts) and his commitment to this team, commitment to this city," All-Star Anthony Rizzo said. "Theo and Jed, what they've done. Obviously, when you lose 90 games, 100 games, it's not fun."

They've been having a good time this season, and the fun goes beyond an 89-64 record that matched Kansas City's for third best in the majors entering Saturday's game.

Fun is something Maddon has stressed all year, along with celebrating success. The Cubs turn their clubhouse into a nightclub after victories, with a high-tech sound system and strobe lights.

They had a pajama party for a flight home. Maddon recently gave Pedro Strop a "day at the beach" with a chair, an ice bucket full of beer, a margarita and other beach paraphernalia in front of the reliever's locker.

On Tuesday, Maddon turned Wrigley Field into a zoo. A sloth, a penguin, a snow leopard and a flamingo as well as other animals from the zoo in Columbus, Ohio, were on display in the left-field corner, and the flamingo made an appearance at the manager's pre-game news conference. There was no Billy goat, but a day later, a cheetah named Bibi was at Wrigley.

"He's been awesome every step of the way," Russell said. "From taking guys out to pinch-hitting guys, he's just been on the ball all season. There's not many times I can say he was wrong because he's right 99 percent of the time."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.