The 'inevitable' crown: Clinching just the beginning for Cubs

CHICAGO -- There was no rush to celebrate on the mound. No dramatic walk-off moment to send the Wrigley faithful into a clinching frenzy. The players didn't even stick around to see if they would end the night as division champions or have to come back to cut that final '1' off the magic number themselves Friday afternoon.

Sure, it's anticlimactic to back into the playoffs, but when you do it on Sept. 15 -- or is it 16 -- it hardly takes away from the sentiment. The Chicago Cubs lost their "clinching" game to the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Thursday night, but when the St. Louis Cardinals fell in San Francisco later in the evening the Cubs could still call themselves NL Central champions.

It was only a couple of days ago, while the Cubs were in the midst of taking two of three from those Cardinals, that outfielder Dexter Fowler declared it was "inevitable" his team would clinch soon enough.

It was an easy statement to make considering it's September and the Cubs held a 17-game lead at the time, but he could have made the same declaration on Aug. 15, July 7 or even all the way back on June 1. The Cubs' first division title since 2008 was months in the making and has felt "inevitable" since their incredible 25-6 start.

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