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Emma: Cubs' Wild Party Is Pushing On

By Chris Emma--

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (CBS) -- With a new team-issued Cubs playoff hat on backward, Eddie Vedder stood idly to the side and took in the Cubs' wild celebration.

The front man for Pearl Jam and lifelong Cubs fan has seen many teams come and go without even the slightest chance at the franchise's first World Series since 1908. He's suffered as so many fans have, hoping for that one special group to come along. He even sang about it in 2008, offering a famous, fitting lyric.

Some day we'll go all the way.

Vedder hugged Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein pregame. He watched 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run home run nearly all the way into the Allegheny River. He took in Jake Arrieta's complete-game shutout in Chicago's 4-0 win win at Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game. And then Vedder was drenched in champagne -- new Cubs gear and all, soaked.

The Cubs celebrated each of their 97 regular-season wins this season, not taking anything for granted. They even partied after losing to the Pirates the day after clinching a playoff spot. The score in that loss was a familiar 4-0, but they had a season to celebrate.

On Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Cubs took a first playoff step to a World Series title, beating the Pirates on their home field. Arrieta looked like a Cy Young winner, Dexter Fowler came through with three big hits, Kris Bryant had two stellar defensive plays and Chicago moved on to the NLDS, with Friday's Game 1 in St. Louis looming. But, first, there was another legendary party.

David Ross, the team's elder statesman, hugged all in sight. Fernando Rodney did a spinning helicopter move to spray everyone with champagne. Tommy Hunter passed out victory cigars. Even former Cubs pitchers Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster joined the fun, as did actor John Cusack and former Obama advisor David Axelrod.

Sure, one can argue that celebrating a one-game wild-card victory this hard is silly, but playing a one-game wild-card format is sillier. The Cubs were going to party regardless, though it was simply a requirement, with champagne and alcohol supplied by MLB corporate sponsors. The team was ready to turn it up.

"We got a great group here," Bryant said. "We have just a lot of fun. That's what it's about -- have fun, don't let the pressure effect you. Joe (Maddon) said it best: 'Never let the pressure exceed the pleasure of this game.' I think that's the best saying. That should be the title of our book, if he writes one."

Maybe some day, Maddon will write a book. But as Bryant was saying this, Maddon was hugging Cusack. There was plenty to celebrate. After all, this young Cubs core came together and far surpassed realistic expectations for their season, one in which four rookies started on a team that reached the playoffs -- never done before in baseball history.

These Cubs aren't afraid of anything -- not 40,889 screaming Pirates fans, the intimidating Gerrit Cole, or lofty expectations from long-suffering fans. The prospect and pressure of chasing a World Series is just a preamble to the party.

Empty beer cans, champagne bottles and corks filled the clubhouse floor, flooded in the aftermath with an inch of alcohol. Cigar smoke filled the air as ballpark attendants attempted to keep up with the rapid pace of debris being left on the floor. All of this occurred while the team charter patiently waited at the airport. The Cubs were soon off to St. Louis, but not before a final toast.

Cubs players gathered, soaked head to toe. They smiled, raised their glasses and celebrated what they've accomplished and what could be to come.

"Cheers," one Cub shouted. "To the never-ending party."

Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.

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