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      Smack Zone — Cubs

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      If Only Cubs-Pirates Was More than One Game ...

      [caption id="attachment_1061" align="alignright" width="240"]Smack Apparel If the curse is going to end this year, it's gotta start Wednesday.[/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor The National League wildcard game takes place tomorrow night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It features a division rivalry as the Chicago Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. It also features two teams that finished with the second- and third-highest win totals in all of MLB, and both would have won any other division that didn’t include the St. Louis Cardinals. This will be the Pirates’ third straight year in the wildcard game, losing last year to the eventual World Series Champions San Francisco Giants. In 2013, they beat the Reds but lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS in five games. They are looking to finally get over the hump this year and take down their division rival Cardinals. The Cubs, on the other hand, are one of the feel-good stories of the year. They weren’t supposed to make the postseason this quickly, but don’t tell them that. Joe Maddon took this very young and inexperienced ball club and turned them into a legitimate World Series contender in his first year. Needless to say, Chicago fans love them some Maddon. Chicago hasn’t been in the postseason since 2008. That year, they ended up getting swept in three games by the Dodgers, a season after getting swept by the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. Cubs fans are very confident in this team advancing to take on the Cardinals. That’s because Jake Arrieta and his MLB-history-best  0.45 ERA since the All-Star Break takes the mound. That’s right … A  0.45 ERA -- insane! This game has the makings of a classic October baseball clash. Two teams that both should be in the division series, but have to play this one-game playoff to advance (it would be nice if they at least could play a best-of-three series). A 3-2, or 2-1 game seems about right. Cubs fans will be traveling in droves to the 'burgh to cheer on their beloved Cubbies. Most people know the history of the Cubs, and how fans think the team is cursed. One college professor shows his sympathy for his student: Cubs Student That's our kind of professor! We're going to go out on a limb and take the Buccos in one.  

      Celebrate! (For tomorrow, most of you will lose)

      Is there anything in sports more fleeting than the thrill of a post-clinch celebration in baseball? The players deserve it. That's for damn sure. Baseball season is ridiculously long, ridiculously grueling. It's a lifetime of frustration and heartache and sleepless nights and general bullshittery compacted into a horrible, emotionally draining six-month period. That's how it is for the WINNING teams. So, sure. When you clinch that playoff check, go crazy. Let the beer and champagne flow. This game's fun. Let's have fun out here, OK? It's fun, God dammit. Just understand this: Pretty soon, almost every one of you will be crying into that beer. Or, if not crying, punching the hell out of your locker after you get your asses run out of the playoffs just. Like. That. It's quick, man. One minute, you're on top of the baseball world. Just look at A-Rod in that embedded SportsCenter tweet up there. Doesn't he look happy? Doesn't he look cold? Well, pretty soon, chances are he and his Yankees teammates will not be happy. And they won't be cold, because they'll be on vacation on some beach somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean. Or Hawaii. Vegas, maybe. Wherever. Where they won't be is in the World Series, probably. Because that? That is hard. Only one team will get to throw that party in early November or late October or Christmas, or whenever the hell the World Series ends these days. That's next week's bad news, though. Today is for the happy. Let's give these guys room to celebrate, if only for a little while. Here, then, is a compendium of post-clinch celebrations so far. We still have two more coming, because someone is going to win the AL West, and someone is going to clinch the second AL wildcard. Here's what we've got going into the weekend, though. It will have to suffice for most of them. Who do you think did it best this year? Mets, NL East: Michael Conforto's celebration POV is epic on Deadspin. Cardinals, NL Central: Just like St. Louis, the Cardinals celebrate NIIIIICE. Dodgers, NL West: L.A. got to rub it into the World Series champions and HATED rivals, the Giants, by clinching and celebrating in San Francisco. Doesn't get much sweeter. Cubs, NL wildcard: With Jake Arrieta pitching against the Pirates in the wildcard play-in game, we get the feeling the Cubs will live to celebrate once more. Pirates, NL wildcard: We are family! (For one more game only. Sorry, Buccos. Two words: Jake. Joe. Two more words: Good. Bye.) Royals, AL Central: Party like it's 1985! Blue Jays, AL East: Good party, eh? Munenori Kawasaki thought so. Yankees, AL wildcard: Yay. We won.