This thing still replays in my mind. And the news is everywhere!
“The last real American sports story—the story of the team that couldn’t and seemingly never would—is gone for good… [Rick Morrissey – Sun Times] Now I watch in shocked delight as the Cub’s sleeping bats come alive! A leadoff home run…
“…ending more than a century of flops, futility and frustration.” [Ronald Blum – Associated Press] …now more runs—a lot more runs, but way too many innings left to go…
The Cubs won their last title way back in 1908 “At the time, Theodore Roosevelt was president, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states, and the first Ford Model T car was two weeks old.” [Ronald Blum – Associated Press] …I hear our first baseman, Rizzo, caught in the dugout on an open mike, saying, “I can’t control myself. I’m an emotional wreck.”
“The longest championship drought for any continuously operating pro team in North America – nay, the world…we never truly thought this would happen. We joked about not seeing the Cubs win it all in our lifetimes. We said that with grins when we were young. We reached middle age, and we said it with blank faces. We grew old, and it curled off our lips like, yes, a curse.” [Rick Telander – Northwest Herald]
Yup, that about sums it up for me. A hundred and eight years! Why should anything change today vs. the Cleveland Indians? Somehow the Cubs will find a way to lose this thing.
Again, the events of the game run through my mind. “No, Maddon, no!” Why yank Hendricks when he’s on a roll? He can pitch himself out of trouble. At least let him finish the inning. After that, you’ve got nearly enough pitchers to use one for each out. Even Jake can take a batter or two. But the manager doesn’t hear me. In goes Lester. The guy’s got the numbers but this ain’t his night. Bad things start happening and the score creeps closer—the same pattern I’ve seen unfold all my life.
Out comes Chapman, the one-inning wonder-closer, who hurls the ball at 105 mph, now pressed into way too many innings for way too many games. Before long, he’s pouring sweat, his face in anguish. “Take him out! Can’t you tell he’s out of gas?” He hurls the next pitch and the Cubs blow the final three-run lead with two outs in the eighth. When he reaches the dugout, he weeps. And the same cynical, “Maybe next year,” settles in my mind.
Now the 10th inning. The rain delay. The Indians intentionally walk Rizzo. The batter shortens his swing. “In a situation where some of his teammates would have swung for the outer reaches…Zobrist settled for making contact.” [William Graves – Associated Press] The rally! The win! Ben immediately points skyward, giving God the glory, but they award him the MVP of the World Series.
Eight to Seven—every run counts! The game of a lifetime! “…something that no one alive has ever seen happen before.” [Rick Telander – Northwest Herald] I watch the after-game mayhem, the unbounded joy, as if in a trance. The team carries the retiring catcher, Ross, off the field! I’m numb—stunned—and it hasn’t all sunk in.
Now the parade! Where is Sianis’ goat?
So I grow up with both the Cubs and Sox, collecting their trading cards, arguing over which team is best. But Ron Santo and Ernie Banks are my heros. Those guys are the top of the heap. I’m eight years old when Santo visits my Cub Scout troop and I shake his hand in awe.
But those two guys never make it to the post season during their careers. Now they’re both dead and in the Hall of Fame. Maybe this game is played out by Dexter, Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, Zobrist, Baez, Heyward, Contreras, Ross, Montero… But for me, this win is all about those two heros from my childhood.
Quick Comparisons – Chicago Teams
- The Bears won nine championships: 1921 as the Chicago Staleys, and then in 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, and 1963. They didn’t win for another 22 years—the glorious 1985 Superbowl. That was 31 years ago, but who can forget?
- The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup six times: 1934, 1938 and 1961, then after a 49-year dry run, they triumphed spectacularly in three recent contests—2010, 2013, 2015. If one were to chart their history like a stock or futures contract, a momemtum trader might suggest the semiannual pattern indicates they’re due again this year. On the other hand, a technical trader may see a triple top, similar to a security that’s reached its ultimate peak. But I’m hoping for another win this year.
- The Bulls won six NBA championships but not until the 1990’s when Michael Jordan woke them from their slumber. With him they pulled it off in 1991, ’92 and ’93. Then Jordan retired, tried baseball for a couple years, and the team went back to sleep. When he returned, they won in 1996, ’97 and ‘98. Two three-peats in eight years. Since then they’ve slept soundly for a good 18 years.
- The White Sox won the World Series three times. Eleven years ago, in 2005, they thrilled Chicago, sweeping the series in four straight games—their first championship since 1917 and 1906, bringing back baseball honor to Chicago after an 88-year dry spell.
- The Cubs also won the World Series three times—back-to-back in 1907 and 1908, but not again till this year. 108 years!
Yet amazingly, the Cubs enjoy an enormous national fan base. On this, the seventh game of the World Series, enough Cub fans show up in Cleveland to make it seem like a home game. StubHub sells seats behind the dugout for $10K each. Yes, this is the Cubs—one of Chicago’s oldest startups.
“No Goat” by John Jonelis, MS Office
Baseball Cards from Baseball Almanac
Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com
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