It’s starting to look like even God wants the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central this year, as Hurricane Ike has forced the postponement of at least the first two games of a three game set between the Cubs and Astros in Houston. The Cubs have struggled as of late and could use the days to regroup, while the Astros have been blazing hot and are losing momentum. With Ike’s damage still being sorted out, contingency plans are being made to get the games in.
One plan has the Astros, who have won 14 out of 15 and are just three games out of the wild card lead, giving up the home games and having the series played at the “neutral” site of Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Unsurprisingly, the Astros aren’t really having any of that.
Thousands of Cubs fans routinely make the trip to Milwaukee for games against the Brewers, and with the games likely carrying a light ticket price (it’s typical of these neutral-site series to sell seats for $10), it wouldn’t be out of the question for 40,000 Old Style-swilling, Harry Caray-loving FIBs to descend on Beertown.
And, there’s the whole thing with the Brew Crew being the team the Astros are trying to run down in the wild card chase, which might lead to an unholy alliance of Cubs and Brewers fans.
Per MLB.COM, the Astros are really hoping this whole hurricane business is just a minor nuisance:
“If the storm hits Houston, if it has not been severe and we still have power at Minute Maid Park and no flooding, the last key issue is we need the Cubs to be able to fly into Intercontinental [Airport] so we can play Sunday,” [Drayton] McLane said. “That is the hope. The Commissioner makes the final decision. We’ll look for a decision to come down midday Saturday.”
Milwaukee was initially ruled out, partly because of an event scheduled on the field over the weekend and partly because the series could amount to extra home games for the Cubs, who play 90 miles down Interstate 94 at Wrigley Field.
“Milwaukee’s kind of a home game for them, isn’t it?” Astros infielder Mark Loretta said Thursday.
But with 100-mile-per-hour winds blasting the Houston area and millions of residents faced with power outages and flooding, the Astros might be faced with biting the bullet and playing the series (and perhaps the remainder of the season) on the road.
The CHICAGO TRIBUNE is reporting that the Astros are so set on having the games at home that they would favor playing two games on Monday, and holding one for after the season:
Another option is flying into Houston on Sunday night for a doubleheader Monday. In that scenario the Cubs would play the third postponed game after the end of the regular season if it’s necessary to determine a postseason spot.
The easiest solution that nobody’s talking about — if MLB truly has any interest in preserving the home-field advantage for the ‘Stros — is moving the games to Comiskey…errr…US Cellular Field, and only admitting people who live south of the Chicago Loop. You won’t find a more enthusiastic group of (insert Cubs opponents here) fans anywhere.