10/06/2003 1:39 AM ET
Not all fun and games for Cubs
While team celebrates NLDS win, it's just first step
ATLANTA -- And on the fifth day, they celebrated.
The Chicago Cubs popped the corks on the champagne bottles once again Sunday night, celebrating their 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves to take the NLDS, three games to two.
It was the second time in eight days they celebrated in a clubhouse, the last time coming Sept. 28, when they clinched the NL Central Division with a sweep of a doubleheader against Pittsburgh.
The cigars were out, the lockers were covered in plastic and the bottles were spraying everywhere as the players and front office staffers got their groove on and marked the occasion of the Cubs' first series victory in the postseason since 1908.
While the fun was evident and well-deserved Sunday night, the players and coaches knew it was back to business in Chicago on Monday afternoon.
Manager Dusty Baker said winning the Division Series was only one step of many. Now, taking on the Florida Marlins in the National League Championship Series is the business at hand.
"This was step two," Baker said of winning the NLDS. "Championship season is step one. And National League Championship is step three and four is the World Series."
Baker said he never imagined this would happen in his first year at the helm.
"I'll take it -- and I am quietly subdued and happy and want to go back to the World Series again," Baker said.
To get there, he and the Cubs will have to face a Marlins team that stunned the San Francisco Giants in four games. They have a strong infield and a catcher with a solid resume in Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez can also get it done with the bat; he scored all three runs in Game 3 and a big run to keep them within reach in the decisive Game 4.
Cubs center fielder Moises Alou played on the 1997 World Champion Marlins team and knows what it is like to wear that coveted ring. He's looking forward to the series.
"They are a pretty good young team," Alou said. "They have some momentum going, we have some momentum going. I think I really like our chances. Our pitchers have been carrying us all year and we've got some offense going and everybody is ready to go all the way. It's going to be a fun series and we are looking forward to it."
Game 5 starter Kerry Wood, who picked up his second win of the postseason Sunday, said of Monday, "it's back to work and another goal we have to work towards. We have to get ready for the Marlins and get through that series first."
Wood will likely receive reams of knowledge from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who studied countless hours of tape for each regular-season series. He's turning it up a notch in the postseason.
Rothschild said he planned to get started as soon as he returned to Chicago. The advance scouts and video people will have plenty of information for him to dissect.
"I am sure we'll have a light workout tomorrow," Rothschild said. "We'll probably prepare like we did for this series. This time of year, after you play this many games, it's just really making sure they're ready to play. You know what the other team is capable of and you know what their tendencies are. You just stick with your game plan and the catchers make the adjustment off that.
"I'll watch a whole lot of tapes tomorrow. This time of year, I think it's imperative. I'll look at what our pitchers did against their hitters, and what their hitters have done the last week or so. I don't have it with me, or I'd start today."
Closer Joe Borowski is adopting the same attitude as the rest of the team. While he planned to enjoy himself on the flight home, he knows that Monday will bring a host of information as the game plan takes shape.
"This is the first step in what we want to do," Borowski said. "We're not satisfied winning the series. Tomorrow we'll work out and get ready for the Marlins and it's back to work. Tomorrow's back to reality and back to work."
Alou, for one, joked that he didn't feel like working after the excitement Sunday in Atlanta.
"I don't want to go to work tomorrow," he said with a sly smile. "It's a media thing to go work out tomorrow. You don't need to go work out in October. You're already tired."
Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com