By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) The line between happiness and relief is both debatable and meaningless at this point. There will be more baseball, which means more hours upon hours of drawn-out entertainment of entirely its own kind.
There’s nothing like what the Cubs seem to do and how they do it, almost no way to know what to expect other than something compelling happening deep into the night, often defying criticism on a strategic or tactical level while begging for it on an artistic one. From last year’s World Series run and culminating Game 7 to to whatever ended up transpiring in a 9-8 win against the Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night in Washington, this is now as much theatrical as athletic, and the curtain has yet to fall.
The 2017 Cubs continue to exist, even — or perhaps especially — after such abundant absurdism as catcher’s interference, a passed-ball strikeout, a ball lost in the lights and a foot popping off a base in an instant caught on tape. And then it’s all beer and bubbly.
The victory didn’t call for any reasoned analysis so much as postgame commentary from none other than Jon Lester, the normally taciturn scowler who needed only some cold pops to welcome microphones to his locker. Asked about Wade Davis’s seven-out save, Lester responded, “I have no idea, I blacked out.”
This is now less the territory of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus and more that of Kierkegaard and Camus. To try to figure it out is to miss the point, which seems to be that the Cubs can remind us that the human condition may be utterly devoid of logic.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker is Sisyphus right in front of our eyes in this production, eternally rolling his boulder up the mountain only to have it come back down on top of him. Left to mutter softly about what he called “a series of bad events,” Baker has now lost 10 consecutive close-out games as a manager of four different teams.
And bespectacled counterpart Joe Maddon plays on, juggling seven pitchers and 19 names in his Cubs batting order before hopping a plane to Los Angeles for the start of his third consecutive NL Championship Series.
The human mind wasn’t designed to understand the universe, and there’s fundamental conflict between the desire to seek inherent value in existence and our ability to find any.
There’s no sense or certainty, but there are still the Cubs.