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Everything You Need To Know For The Cubs' Make-Or-Break Playoffs Game

By Kate Shepherd in News on Oct 6, 2015 5:02PM

Photo credit: Joseph Dennis

The excitement around Wednesday's Cubs' wildcard game against the Pittsburgh Pirates is infectious. "Cubs Win" flags are flying on Michigan Avenue. Clark the Cub is giving away free win flags around the city today. The game conflicts with the Blackhawks' regular season opener at United Center but the Cubs could make history.

Not a sports fan? That doesn't mean you have to stay out of the fun. Here's a round-up you need to know to root for the Cubs this week:

The National League wild card game: The Cubs take on the Pirates tomorrow night in the NL wild card game in Pittsburgh. It starts at 7 p.m. CST and will be shown on TBS. It's only one game and the winner goes on to play a full playoff series against the St. Louis Cardinals and the loser is eliminated from the playoffs.

Fortunately, the Cubs have a winning record, 11-8 against the Pirates this year, but both teams are exceptionally good right now. The Pirates have the second-best overall season record in baseball and the Cubs have the third, according to Bleacher Report.

Where to get free stuff: The Cubs' mascot Clark the Cub will be making stops around the city today until 5:30 p.m., according to RedEye. You can snap a picture with the adorable Clark and get a free flag. Follow his movements via the Cubs' Instagram, Twitter and Vine.

The stars: Players Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and manager Joe Maddon are the names you should recognize. Rookie Bryant currently has the best-selling jersey in the MLB, Arrieta pitched a no-hitter in August and Maddon has transformed the team completely in his first year as manager.

This game is a big deal: The Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup on a regular basis and the Bulls at least make the playoffs every year, why do we care about the Cubs playing in a wild card game? Despite being one of the most high-profile teams in baseball, the Cubs rarely make the playoffs and haven't won a World Series since 1908. Since 1945, they've only made the playoffs seven times: 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015.

The lovable losers made a brief comeback in 2007 and 2008 when they won their division two years in a row but were swept in the first round of the playoffs. The team hasn't won a playoff game since their 2003 playoff run ended abruptly. Many blamed it on a fan named Steve Bartman who tried to catch a ball still in play. Fortunately, he declined a crowd-funded offer to attend tomorrow's game.

"The Curse of the Billy Goat": Why have the Cubs been plagued with bad luck for so many years? Many fans seriously blame it on a curse placed on the team by the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, Billy Sianis, in 1945. Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley Field because of the smell of his pet goat. The angry Sianis declared that the Cubs wouldn't win any more and he's largely been right. The Cubs haven't played in a World Series since 1945.

The curse is a sensitive topic for many fans who can be very superstitious.

Predictions: As we pointed out earlier, the Cubs have a winning record against the Pirates this season and they certainly have a ton of momentum behind them. Let's hear what the experts have to say about the wild card game:

-Fox Sports: Three out of their four experts picked the Cubs over the Pirates.

Sporting News: Picks the Cubs over the Pirates 2-1.

ESPN: 14 of ESPN's 23 experts picked the Cubs over the Pirates.