The Cubs came exactly as scripted in last night's 4-0 win in the NL Wild Card Game.
Jake Arrieta was masterful. Kyle Schwarber was powerful. The team was headstrong. They played just as they had been playing all season. They were unfazed by 40,000 fans, all in black, rooting for the opposition.
I picked the Cubs to win the World Series. It was just an impulse of mine. I didn't think the Blue Jays, the pre-postseason favorite, could deliver on their promises. I'm not a fan of the Mets streakiness. I don't like the Dodgers' hitting. The Royals' managing is just as questionable.
One by one, team by team, I continued to find reasons why every single postseason team wouldn't win the World Series.
Then I came to the Cubs.
And why not? The Royals made it to the World Series last year, even though everyone had Jon Lester and the A's knocking them off in the Wild Card game. So why not the Cubs?
This is a deep team with a good manager, great hitting and defense, and, overall, good-enough-to-get-by pitching. They've got the intangibles too: hunger, fight, and heart.
What really bothered me by the pick was the Wild Card game. The Cubs don't have a lot of postseason experience to say the least. The oldest man in their regular starting lineup is 31-year-old catcher Miguel Montero. Five are 25 or younger.
The Wild Card game bothered me because the Cubs might get fazed by the rambunctious, loud, and proud Pittsburgh fans and a team that has been in this position before.
I overlooked something right in front of me: Jake Arrieta.
By Bill James' pitching game score, Arrieta's pitching performance last night was the third-best start he's made all season, even in a year where he posted an absurd 0.75 ERA in the second half. Arrieta struck out 11, walked none, and pitched a shutout.
"I didn't want to see anybody in the bullpen," Arrieta said, via MLB.com. "I wanted to finish what I started and be the guy to get the last out. That was the mindset."
And the script continues to get written.