• NLCS Game 6: Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on FS1
There's no way the Cubbies don't make the World Series this time.
This goes beyond the Cubs' 3-2 lead against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, with two chances to clinch at Wrigley Field.
I know what you're thinking. So does anybody with a 13-year-old memory or access to reruns of that Cubs-Marlins NLCS. The horrors for those Cubs ranged from Steve Bartman to a huge error by their shortstop to the visiting Marlins eventually taking Game 7.
You can add that to 1984, when the Cubs led the Padres 2-0 during that NLCS and didn't advance. With all those experiences, the Cubs are now 0-for-6 all time in games to clinch a trip to the World Series.
After this weekend, they will move to 1-for-7 in that category. OK, maybe 1-for-8.
No, Lemke doesn't play for the Cubs, and yes, he retired about a couple of decades ago. But do you remember Mr. October? I'm talking about Reggie Jackson, who solidified his nickname for the ages with the Yankees after he ripped three home runs on three pitches from three different pitchers from the Dodgers during the 1977 World Series.
Well October baseball has been a platform for the less famous doing miraculous things. Like Daniel Murphy last season for the Mets hitting a homer in a record six consecutive playoff games despite just 14 during the regular season, or the Miracle Mets of 1969's outfield, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee and Ron Swoboda, shocking the Orioles with regularity in the field and at the plate.
Then there was Lemke, who went from obscurity for the Braves during the 1991 World Series to a guy with 10 hits (including three triples) in 24 at-bats (.417) against the Blue Jays. This was the same Lemke who finished with a career batting average of .246 after 11 seasons.
Javier Baez is the Cubs' Lemke, but he's thriving at the plate and in the field. Not only is he hitting out of his mind (.375 in the NLDS against the Giants, .368 in the NLCS after hitting just .244 during the regular season), but his defense at second base is otherworldly.
During all of the Cubs' previous attempts at breaking the curse, they haven't had the likes of Baez, looking like a baseball exorcist for a franchise that needs one.
No more frosty bats
The Cubs' bats have thawed, in a big way.
After the roaring to a dramatic 8-4 win in the opener against the Dodgers, they were held scoreless the next two games. That changed in Game 4, when Addison Russell signaled the end of his 1-for-25 playoff slump with a two-run homer during a 10-2 rout for the Cubs, while most of his teammates joined him in rediscovering their prowess at the plate.
The Cubs ripped 13 hits during Game 4 and then 13 more on Thursday night en route to an 8-4 victory at Dodger Stadium, taking a 3-2 series lead.
Anthony Rizzo wasn't reaching base, but his at-bats hinted a breakthrough was near. He had two hits in Game 5, as did Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler and Russell. But they still trailed the three hits by their Mr. October (Baez).
Just win, baby
That's a mantra in the NFL from the late Al Davis, but it also works for these Cubs who aren't bothered by adversity.
After dropping the opener in the NL Division Series last season to the rival Cardinals, Chicago bounced back to win three straight. So raise your hand if you thought the Cubs were done this season in the NLDS after the relentless Giants dropped the first two but soared from behind to take Game 3 in extra innings?
My hand is raised.
To further hinder the Cubs' chances of advancing, San Francisco had a three-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 4. A loss would have returned the series to Chicago, where the Cubs would likely face Johnny Cueto, who had already shut them down in Game 1, in Game 5. Well, the Cubs responded by scoring four in the ninth to eliminate the Giants.
That fearless attitude continues for Chicago.
Those three B's were so long ago.
If you're a Cubs historian, you know about the three B's: Bartman, black cat and billy goat.
Let's start with another B ... Baez. He has looked like the MVP of this NLCS, but he was 11 years old when Bartman battled Moises Alou for that foul ball.
Neither Baez nor most of his teammates can relate to the Bartman incident, so you know that's the case when it comes to the black cat, which goes back to 1969. That's when the Cubs, led by Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ferguson Jenkins, blew an 8 1/2-game lead in their division in August to finish eight games behind the Miracle Mets. In the midst of the collapse, a black cat walked in front of the Cubs' dugout at Shea Stadium.
As for the billy goat, it involved the owner of that animal supposedly cursing the Cubs for not allowing the two of them to attend a game during the 1945 World Series at Wrigley Field.
You know the rest: The Cubs haven't been to a World Series since then, but they'll do so next week against the Indians.