The Cubs woke up on Saturday morning as a playoff team for the first time in seven years.
There was no way a 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates would stop them from partying with fans at Wrigley Field after the game.
"When you plan stuff, it doesn't always go exactly how you want," president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said amid the celebration on the field. "But our guys deserve this. Frankly, it would have been out of personality for them not to celebrate in a big way, despite the circumstances.
"They deserve it and I'm proud of them. Let them do whatever they want within the law."
The Cubs clinched their playoff spot overnight as the San Francisco Giants lost on the West Coast. The Cubs lost the first two games of the series to Pittsburgh's top two pitchers, Gerrit Cole (Friday) and Francisco Liriano (Saturday), scoring a total of two runs in 18 innings and falling to 5.5 games behind the Pirates in the wild-card race.
That essentially dashed any hopes of hosting that one-game playoff at Wrigley Field. But the celebration on the field wasn't just about one game or even this series with the Pirates.
"Even though we did not win the game today, that really does not matter in a sense," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's a celebration of a season, to this point only.
"We have a lot of work left. Trust me, our guys will be ready for the next week and what happens after that."
Maddon has been talking about the playoffs since his introductory press conference back in November.
Baseball experts doubted him and said it was a year too early for the young Cubs to contend, but Maddon didn't mind being an underdog.
"That's OK," he said. "We had to go out and actually do it."
Epstein signed on to rebuild the team back in October 2011. As he was watching the Giants lose, he couldn't help but think back to where it all began.
"You can't script it," Epstein said. "Last night, there was an awful lot of thinking back to 2011, 2012 and how daunting the task seemed for a lot of people involved and how much work people put in."
How did Epstein and his front office cohorts celebrate as they watched their Cubs clinch a playoff berth?
"A bunch of us just started texting each other, basically ripping on each other for being old fogeys," Epstein said.
"Ten years ago, we all would have been out tearing it up. But we all just texted from bed, basically."