CHICAGO -- They waited nearly five minutes following the final out to process their 8-3 loss to the Mets on Wednesday night, and once they were done, the Cubs walked out of the dugout. They turned toward the third-base side of Wrigley Field where a gathering of fans had formed, and then they tipped their caps.
Some also turned toward the first-base dugout, where the Mets still lingered, and tipped their caps again. After they were swept in the National League Championship Series, the Cubs were quick to acknowledge the Mets' strong performance.
"That was a pretty impressive four games they played against us," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "They did not let us up for air at any point. Their domination of the early part of the game and their pitching was impressive. They played well, they didn't make mistakes. So it's not so much to be disappointed in our performance. They were just that good for four days, man. I've got to give them credit."
Added catcher David Ross: "They played really good baseball and that's a really good team over there that beat us. … When they got their opportunity they took advantage of it. It's a really deep lineup, it's a good pitching staff, it's a good baseball team in general from top to bottom."
The Cubs also paid special tribute to Mets captain and third baseman David Wright by giving him third base after the game concluded. Wright is completing his 12th year as a player and just his second in the postseason, finishing with a 4-for-14 line in four games against Chicago.
But players were quick to point out it was both hitting and pitching where the Mets ultimately excelled. Not once did New York trail in the series, and it wasn't until Kris Bryant's two-run blast in the eighth inning on Wednesday that the Cubs scored more than one run in a single inning.
"Everybody battled to the last out," said center fielder Dexter Fowler. "You can only tip your cap to each and every guy -- you know they gave their all."
Added Bryant: "Sometimes you run into a team like that and we just happened to do it at the wrong time of the year."
Even as the Mets celebrated on the field, the Cubs still blared music in the clubhouse. Jason Hammel joked with Miguel Montero about his golf game. The Cubs have specialized in taking each game on a day-by-day basis, so they weren't going to spend all of their time feeling bad.
"Obviously, this hurts and we wanted to reach the next step, but sometimes you have to tip your hat and realize the other team played a little bit better than you did," said left-hander Jon Lester. "You can only grieve so much."
Chicago finished the season with a 7-4 record against the Mets after sweeping every regular-season contest, but the postseason environment proved to be different. So as the Cubs tipped their caps, they might be holding out for the possibility to see them next season.
"You never know what baseball is going to give you," Bryant said. "Look at us. Nobody expected us to be here and we were here."
Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.