Rozner: Oblivious Cubs just keep on pounding Cards
Some around baseball are starting to grumble about the Cubs' arrogance.
They are, after all, America's darlings. They walk around like stuff stuck to the bottom of their shoes doesn't stink, and they act like they never expect to lose again.
But if that's the perception, well, that's fine with the Cubs, because the truth is the Cubs think they can't lose.
It is not, however, arrogance. It's ignorance, of the blissful regard.
To borrow from Jon Lester, the young Cubs are just too dumb to know how impossible it is that they're already here, too naive to worry about it, and too young to care.
Overheard in the dugout before Game 3 Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field was a conversation about how it lines up perfectly for Jake Arrieta to start Game 1 of the NLCS Saturday in New York or Los Angeles.
This was with this series tied at a game apiece.
That's no longer the case after the Cubs blasted 6 home runs and defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-6 at Wrigley Field Monday night, taking a 2-1 NLDS lead on a night in which Arrieta was downright human.
"It was nice to pick up Jake tonight. He's picked us up all year," said Starlin Castro. "He's not perfect, ya know, and today we had his back like he's had ours."
Though Arrieta was knocked out in the sixth, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo busted out of postseason slumps, going deep back-to-back in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie and put the Cubs in the lead for good.
Castro, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and Dexter Fowler also hit homers and the Cubs got to five St. Louis pitchers for 13 hits and 5 walks, taking apart a staff that was the best in baseball by a considerable margin in 2015.
"We got nine guys out there and we need all of them to contribute," Arrieta said. "This type of start hasn't happened for me for some time. It's why we need everyone."
If you're keeping score at home -- and why wouldn't you -- that's 3 home runs by rookies off Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright.
So how have these kids been able to do it?
"I honestly don't know," said Schwarber, as if he were a passenger looking through an airplane window, forgetting apparently that he is one of the main culprits. "They're just good baseball players. That's it."
The Cubs' relentless approach at the plate, seeing multiple pitches in every at-bat regardless of circumstance, exhausts even the hardiest of veteran pitchers. It wears them down and inevitably takes a toll.
The fact that so many young players understand it speaks to the kind of player Theo Epstein covets, but also to their character and intelligence.
"It also is about the atmosphere created for them when they got here that made them feel comfortable and needed," Arrieta said. "It helped them understand how to approach the game, how they'll be approached, how to adjust and how they'll be adjusted to.
"They've done an amazing job."
That has led them to a place where they can eliminate the 100-win Cardinals Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field and await the winner of Mets-Dodgers in the NLCS.
"It's just a baseball game," Fowler said. "It's not a big game. It's just a game."
There it is. There's your answer.
The Cubs continue to laugh, dance and pump their fists through a dream season, never stopping to consider the improbability of what they have accomplished thus far.
"It's always a pleasure going out there with those guys. It's always fun," Schwarber said. "It doesn't feel like a job."
It was the great Nuke LaLoosh who said you need to play this game with fear and ignorance.
The Cubs have latter down pat, but fear is something the Cubs haven't a clue about.
• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.