It looked like a heck of a party at Wrigley Field, and why not? It’s not every day the Chicago Cubs can spray some champagne.

Hey, Chicago hadn’t clinched a playoff spot in about 12 months, and that’s a long time to go without a party. The Cubs hadn’t celebrated a division title in eight years, and that can feel like a lifetime.

Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with a celebration, especially for a team that has had as perfect a season as the Cubs have had (and a perfect clinching day with a walk-off home run). The Cubs spent the spring listening to people say they were the best team in baseball, and they’ve gone out and proved it.

They’ve been good, they’ve been fun and there’s absolutely no doubt that when the postseason begins in another two weeks, they’ll go in as the team with the best chance of winning it all.

And then what?

It’s easy enough to predict the party will continue, and Friday was just the beginning rather than the end. It’s easy enough to suggest the best team will win, even though we know from recent history the best team usually doesn’t win.

The Cubs know that from last year, when they weren’t the best team in the regular season but looked like the best team in October…until they couldn’t even win one game against the New York Mets. They should know it from 2008, when they were the best team in the National League in the regular season…and couldn’t win a single game when they got to October.

You can go back to 2003 and to 1984, too, but on this day, there’s no reason to cause Cubs fans any more pain. The hangovers from all the celebrating they did Friday afternoon and into the night will be tough enough.

Besides, the point today isn’t that Chicago won’t win. If I had to put money on one team today, with no odds attached, I’m betting on the Cubs. They have a better and deeper rotation than they did a year ago, the kids are a year older and better and the moves they made last winter really should make them less vulnerable against high-octane pitching.

They could face the Mets again, this time in a best-of-five division series, but these aren’t the same Mets. They could have a tough time in a National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but are Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill going to be healthy? They could find a challenge from the Washington Nationals, but is it as big a challenge if Stephen Strasburg isn’t there to team with Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation?

No, the Cubs’ biggest challenge is the one they’ve faced since February or since October. Or in any of those other Octobers they’ve played in since 1908.

It’s the challenge of their history, and the challenge of their fans’ expectations.

What happens if they lose Game 1 of a series? What happens if they’re down two games to none or three games to one?

Given how things went in 1984 and 2003, what happens even if they’re one win away from a World Series? Sorry again for bringing that up.

The Cubs and their fans justifiably think this is their year, but the neat thing about October is that just about every team that gets there finds a reason to feel the same way. The 162-game season can be such a challenge that teams that survive it often start to believe they have destiny on their side.

Or sometimes it’s “Dustiny,” as Cubs fans said in 2003 when Dusty Baker was their manager (and as Nationals fans may say with Baker in Washington now).

People in Cleveland will feel it after watching the NBA Cavaliers come from three games to one down against the Golden State Warriors and then seeing the Indians spend the summer in first place.

People in Texas may feel it after watching their Rangers dominate the American League West.

And yes, Theo Epstein no doubt felt it in 2004, when his Boston Red Sox came from three games to none down against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Epstein has accomplished quite a bit since coming to the Cubs five years ago, but in terms of breaking the curse, he no doubt understands he still hasn’t accomplished a thing. The Cubs have celebrated division titles before, even if they never celebrated one exactly the way they did Friday.

Yes, there really was a DJ in the clubhouse, as you can see in this tweet from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune:

Why not?

Cubs manager Joe Maddon set up similar celebrations when he ran the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays always had fun, and when they went all the way to the World Series in 2008, they were hailed as a spectacular success.

His Cubs won’t be a spectacular success this year unless that DJ shows up three more times.

Maybe he will. For a Cubs fan—and even neutral fans—it wouldn’t be the worst thing to see.

Heck, it looked like fun.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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