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.
It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.
Sosa hit the 30-homer threshold on June 21, 1998 in only his 71st game of the season. For perspective, the 2018 Cubs leader in homers on June 21 is Javy Baez with 14 and Mike Trout leads all of baseball with only 23.
At this point, Mark McGwire was ahead of Sosa, but the Cubs slugger was pulling closer. McGwire had 33 dingers on June 21 while Ken Griffey Jr. had 28 and Greg Vaughn had 25.
Sosa' June 21 homer came off Tyler Green and was his 5th blast of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field that year. But the Cubs lost that series, despite Sosa's efforts.
Fun fact: Sosa drove in 10 runs in the three-game series with the Phillies that summer while the rest of his teammates combined for only 9 RBI.
The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.
Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.
Check out the entire podcast here: