Imrem: Cubs magical mystery tour ready for St. Louis
Let's start by looking forward to what's next, the 100-victory Cardinals.
OK, all right, we'll take just a moment to look back at Wednesday night's 4-0 victory at Pittsburgh in the National League wild card game.
Pretty familiar stuff, really.
A veteran, this time Dexter Fowler, and a youngster, this time Kyle Schwarber, provided the offense.
Then there was pitching ace Jake Arrieta, who took the Cubs' first-inning run and did what he does: Not just shut down the opposition but shut them out for nine innings.
Oh, and then there was the dust-up in the seventh inning when Tony Watson hit Arrieta with a pitch, emptying both benches and precipitating a bunch of barking.
That should prepare the Cubs for what's next: A renewal of the bitter rivalry with the Cardinals that escalated into nastiness again this season.
How long before the Cubs and Cards exchange high hard ones in the NL Division Series that opens Friday night at St. Louis?
Beyond the acrimony, what the series figures to be is the Cubs' magical mystery tour vs. the Cardinals' mystique.
"We're going to do what we did today," Cubs' rookie slugger Kris Bryant said, "play as hard as we can and see what happens."
Seriously, the Cubs must be thinking, "Bring 'em on."
The Cardinals had the major leagues' best record this year, but looking at their batting order, they must have done it with mystique.
The Cubs finished a mere three games behind the Cards and now have won nine straight games as the magical mystery tour rolls merrily along.
The Cardinals have frustrated the Cubs so many times for so many years on the way to winning so many championships.
That's where the Cardinals' mystique comes in. As the NL's model franchise, an opponent better believe it can beat them to have any chance.
If any Cubs' team might do have that feeling, it's this one that has been gathering momentum for the past three months.
The Cubs have so many young players -- young stars even -- that couldn't care less about who and what the Cardinals have been and are.
All these guys know is what it says on the T-shirts that many of them wear around the clubhouse: "We're good."
With the sort of belief that Maddon has instilled in the young Cubs as well as their veteran teammates, beating the Cardinals is plausible.
Not that it will be easy. Not that it is probable more than simply possible. Not that the Cubs will be anything but underdogs when the first pitch is thrown.
Nevertheless, the magical mystery tour has taken the Cubs this far so the feeling increasingly became that they just might be immunized to the pressure of pennant-race baseball and postseason baseball.
That certainly appeared to be the case as the Cubs kept getting better and better and winning more and more during the second half of the season.
Then it appeared to still be the case as the Cubs routinely disposed of the Pirates in what was the first taste of the postseason for so many of them.
Now the Cubs are supposed to be championship contenders for the next few years but that isn't guaranteed.
Nobody knows for sure that this won't be the Cubs' best opportunity for a long time to qualify for the World Series for the first time since 1945.
It'll be interesting to see whether the Cubs' magical mystery tour can run over the Cardinals' mystique as soon as possible.
Let the fun begin in earnest Friday night at St. Louis.