WASHINGTON – After the Cubs celebrated a playoff win at Nationals Park that felt like a smaller-scale version of last year’s World Series Game 7, their West Coast flight from Washington Dulles International Airport got diverted to New Mexico early Friday morning, leaving the defending champs in a temporary holding pattern (and probably very hungover).
The Cubs made the detour to Albuquerque International Airport because a family member became ill, a source confirmed, describing it as not a dire situation, and the crew maxed out flight time for that shift.
That happens when a 9-8 elimination game starts at 8:08 p.m. on Thursday, lasts 4 hours and 37 minutes and has so many twists and turns that the Cubs will be talking about it for years to come.
The Cubs have lined up a new flight crew and are expected to be in Southern California soon and hold a bare-minimum workout/media session on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
While the Nationals may regret this forever — from questionable strategy (letting Gio Gonzalez pitch three innings) to the mental mistakes behind the plate, in the field and on the bases to the inexplicable Max Scherzer meltdown — the Cubs smoked victory cigars inside the visiting clubhouse and doused each other in beer and champagne.
After an epic National League Division Series, there was no rush to leave and no need for the Cubs to act like they had been there before. This is the third straight trip to the NL Championship Series for a franchise that always makes it interesting. Clayton Kershaw and a 104-win Dodger team will be waiting on Saturday night in Game 1.