The thrill isn’t gone for Cub Country, yet

Wrigley FieldDexter Fowler, who hit Game Seven’s fourth pitch over the center field fence? He’s a Cardinal now, having signed with the rivals during the offseason. Aroldis Chapman, gassed at last and serving Rajai Davis a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth? Back to the Yankees from whence he came.

David Ross, who atoned post haste for a wild throw and a run-scoring bounce off his catcher’s mask by hitting one out on Andrew Miller’s dime? Retired. Jason Hammell, the missing man of the rotation with an elbow issue? Free agent, not likely to return, joining a small pack of marksmen who think Joe Maddon doesn’t really know as much about handling pitchers as he thinks.

The runaway Cubs, taking a division title any way they can get it

Try to resist the temptation to say the Cubs backed into the National League Central clinch Thursday night. Oh, sure, they lost a close one to the Brewers, 5-4, while the otherwise backsliding Giants did them a favour and spanked the Cardinals, 6-2. But when you’ve got baseball’s best record, and a division runaway was all but a given by the middle of the summer, you can afford to let someone else help you sign the title papers.

Wrigleyville celebrates the Cubs’ NL Central clinch Thursday night . . .

The Clubs–er, Cubs–go to the NLCS

The party didn't stop for hours after the Cubs bludgeoned the Cardinals to one side.

The party didn’t stop for hours after the Cubs bludgeoned the Cardinals to one side.

Believe it. The Chicago Cubs have clubbed their way into the National League Championship Series. How long it takes the St. Louis Cardinals to recover from this one is left best to the crystal ball hustlers and card tricksters.

How long it takes before these Clubs wake up from this peculiar dream—they’ve never before clinched any title in their home playpen, and the way they did it could get them charged with human rights violations—might be left best to the same.

Quiet anniversary: The sober end of the Original Mets

Joe Pignatano, warming up at Wrigley Field, where . . .

At a Baseball Assistance Team dinner over a decade ago, Joe Pignatano—once a reserve major league catcher whose career began with the Brooklyn Dodgers and ended with the New York Mets; later a respected Mets bullpen coach—eased himself into a stool behind a table. His old Brooklyn Dodgers teammate, Sandy Koufax, was stationed behind the same table, signing assorted memorabilia and bric-a-brac.

“Hey,” a voice hollered, “how come he gets to sit there?” Koufax flashed a grin and replied, “Roomie seat.”

Dear Cub Fans, You’ve Been Warned

Epstein: Hurry up and wait?

“We have a plan and we have a vision,” says president Theo Epstein, as the Chicago Cubs head to the finish line with (at this writing) only one National League team in their rearview mirror and fourteen crowding the lanes ahead of them, “and it won’t happen overnight, but given the way of things I think this is the best way to go.” Dear Cub fans, you’ve been warned.