This time a week ago, even the biggest skeptics were thinking the Cubs seemed primed to make it to their first World Series in 70 years.
Of course, nobody counted on running into the brick wall that was the New York Mets.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein opened his season-ending press conference Thursday at Wrigley Field by congratulating the Mets and wishing them luck representing the National League in the World Series.
Epstein gave the Mets credit, declaring them a really good team that peaked at the right time.
"I've been on both sides of it," Epstein said. "I've been in the situation where the team I was working for was the hot team going into the World Series or LCS. It almost creates like a tidal wave. There's nothing the other team can do.
"The series creates momentum in itself where you never surrender the lead in any game. You almost never give the team a chance to feel like they're in the series.
"It's a great feeling when you're the tidal wave. It's not such a great feeling when you're the dinghy, getting pushed around by that tidal wave. And the Mets were that tidal wave right now."
Heading into the National League Championship Series, it looked like the Cubs could be that tidal wave team. They had just dismantled the top two teams in baseball — the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals — in the wild-card game and NLDS and had their top two pitchers (Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta) set up on regular — or extra — rest for the first two games of the NLCS.
But the Cubs never led for even one second in the series as the Mets' young pitching shut down the Cubs' young hitting.
Daniel Murphy hit four homers and drove in six runs himself as the Mets scored eight runs in the clincher Wednesday. The Cubs scored just eight runs total in the four-game series.
In 36 innings in the series, Cubs batters compiled just one leadoff hit.
And in each game of the series, the Mets scored in the first inning, totaling nine opening-frame tallies.
"That happens in the postseason," Epstein said. "You get hot at the right time. All those teams are good, but if you get hot at the right time, you become the tidal wave. It can sometimes be arbitrary from one year to the next. How we felt after the Mets series is probably exactly how the Pirates felt after getting only one game.
"That's the meaning of the postseason. It can be really dramatic, really meaningful, really intense, really good baseball and it's fickle. It can be arbitrary, too. Playing your best baseball at the most important time of the year is really important."
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Epstein helped engineer two different Boston Red Sox teams that became the tidal wave and marched right on over teams for a pair of championships.
He's hoping to do the same thing with the Cubs, but he knows it's a numbers game — just get into October as much as possible.
"You can never tell if you're going to be the wave or the boat," Epstein said. "That's why you want to get back there as often as you possibly can. The way we're going to win the World Series is by getting to October again and again and again.
"Hopefully just 'again' and win it next year. But we want to get there as often as possible."