WASHINGTON, D.C. — Flashback Friday to that time Chicago was torn on who should be the Cubs' starting shortstop.
That was fun, wasn't it?
Now, there's no question.
While Javy Baez went hitless in the NLDS (in 14 at-bats), Addison Russell powered the Cubs to victory with four RBI in Game 5, including the big blow - a two-out, two-run double off Max Scherzer to give the Cubs the lead for good.
To be sure, the Cubs don't advance to the NLCS without contributions from both Russell and Baez, with the latter changing several NLDS games with his defense and incredible instincts.
But Russell has made the shortstop "controversy" completely obsolete and it seems laughable there ever was one. (In the mind of the Cubs coaching staff and front office, there never was.)
2017 was a trying season for Russell, both on the field off.
But he will once again get a chance to showcase his skills on the highest stage the National League has to offer, doing so at Dodger Stadium where he busted out of a woeful postseason slump last October and keyed the Cubs' charge to their first World Series in 71 years.
Following Thursday/Friday's big game, Russell is now tied with Anthony Rizzo for the all-time postseason RBI lead (18) in Cubs franchise history.
Russell's propensity for the clutch hit was already legendary after the drought-breaking 2016 season (remember that grand slam in World Series Game 6?) and he's found his groove again as summer turned to fall this year.
The young shortstop delivered a clutch three-run homer on the day the Cubs clinched the division in St. Louis in late September. He also had another big three-run double in that series and added to his resume with the fifth-inning double off Scherzer.
In the sixth inning of Game 5, Russell came through again, lining a ball into the left-center field gap that Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth couldn't get a glove on, resulting in a key insurance run while the dishevled Cubs bullpen tried to keep Washington's relentless offense at bay.
"The swing feels fine; the mentality's fine," a champagne-and-beer-soaked Russell said in the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park early Friday morning. "The body's feeling great. It's just staying with the process and mentally getting stronger each day."
Russell looks nothing like the player who struggled with routine throws from the shortstop position and expanded the zone far too often at the plate in the first few months of 2017.
Manager Joe Maddon has talked several times over the last month about how Russell's and swagger is back.
And just in case he needed any other confidence boost, Russell is now returning the scene where he helped the Cubs end a 21-inning postseason scoreless streak with a long home run to right-center off Julio Urias in Game 4 of the 2016 NLCS.
When asked if he is ready to head back to Dodger Stadium, Russell looked up, ignored the Budweiser still cascading off his head after a fresh dose from Kyle Schwarber, and smirked.