There was an odd vibe around Wrigley Field Sunday morning, even before it started raining and Kris Bryant slipped on first base and rolled his ankle and well before the Cubs suffered yet another gut-wrenching loss.
For the first time in Joe Maddon's tenure as Cubs manager and Ben Zobrist's career as a Cubs player, they showed up to "The Friendly Confines" knowing there would likely be no postseason appearance for this team.
The Cubs are not mathematically eliminated, but they woke up Sunday morning with just an 8.6 percent chance at making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs, and that only went down after the 3-2 loss at Wrigley Field and the Brewers' win in Milwaukee. That puts the Cubs 4 games back in the Wild-Card race with only six to play.
Both Maddon and Zobrist are not under contract after this season and there is a lot of speculation that this could be it for the manager that guided this franchise to its first World Series championship in 108 years and the player who took home the MVP Award in that Fall Classic. Sunday might be the end of an era.
So how did both men approach the day at Wrigley Field?
Zobrist said he was simply focused on the game and the task at hand, though he's been taking little mental snapshots from time to time over his last month here at the corner of Clark and Addison.
The Eureka, Ill., native will allow himself to think about all this stuff once the season is officially over, but he's never taken it for granted to be able to call Wrigley Field home for the last four seasons. This is the same guy who wears stirrups as a callback to the days of yore and has commuted to the ballpark on a bicycle while wearing his full uniform.
"It's the big leagues of the big leagues," Zobrist said. "That's the way the fans make you feel. The front office, the organization, the way everything's run — it's the top of the top. It's hard to beat the experience of being a Chicago Cubs player, especially when you walk out on that field."
The 38-year-old Zobrist admitted he doesn't know what's next for his career after a season in which he missed four months while tending to his family situation. But the last month has answered the question for himself that he still has what it takes physically to play this game.
As for Maddon, he was maybe a bit more introspective than normal in his Sunday morning press availability, but he's always thoughtful and mindful.
He insisted he did not show up to work Sunday with a mindset to "take it all in" or enjoy the moment any more than normal, which makes sense for a guy who routinely preaches the need to stay in the present tense.
"Honestly, I do that every day," he said. "I don't anticipate that. I haven't really thought about that this whole time through. I always expect a good result."
Maddon's job status is up in the air after Theo Epstein's front office took any talks of an extension off the table last winter and wanted to see how the season went before making a decision one way or the other.
Since Maddon took over the helm ahead of the 2015 season, only the Dodgers and Astros have more regular season wins than the Cubs (469) and his teams made it to three National League Championship Series from 2015-17.
As for Sunday morning, Maddon was focused on the weather and how the impending storms could affect his pitching staff with a thin bullpen and the threat of a delay knocking starter Yu Darvish out early. He said he was focused on the game "like I always have" and after the loss, he spoke only about the game and the season and did not have any platitudes about his final Wrigley Field experience.
"When I walk to Wrigley — I've talked about this since I've been here — you always are enthralled and impressed with the fact that you get to work here," he said. "So that's kind of a daily occurrence for me."