Sunday, November 06, 2016

Pride in the Name of Cubs: A 48 (+ 60) Year Wait and a Lifetime to Celebrate

So I've been thinking about how I might wax philosophic about the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time and 108 years.

Certainly I have been quite overjoyed since late Wednesday, as I've been a diehard Cubs fan my entire life--48 years--or at least as long as I've had conscious thought.

This doesn't include the promising but ill-fated 1969 season, all of which took place before I turned one, but I acutely remember the Cubs being in first place on August 1, 1977 only to go 20-39 the rest of the way to wind up in fourth place.

I lived through the misery of the 2-up, 3-down 1984 National League playoffs against the Padres, then the disappointing loss to the Giants in the 1989 playoffs.

Of course there was a drudgery of numerous losing seasons when the Cubs barely qualified as playing major league baseball.

2003 looked promising and I was at Turner Field in Atlanta when the Cubs won their first playoff series since 1908, but I was also at Wrigley for the disastrous Game 6 of the NLCS.

Yada, yada, yada.

Collapse of 2004. Meek bowouts in 2007, 2008. Last year's vanquishing of the Cardinals in the NLDS only to be swept by the Mets in the NLCS.

This isn't exactly news.

But let's just say I've been waiting, sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much.

Certainly, I was somewhat satiated in certain years by championship runs by the Bears, the Bulls, the Blackhawks and yes, even the White Sox, whose World Series title I celebrated and relished in 2005. (I've never been a Sox-hating Cubs fan, and even consider myself a Sox fan, except vs. the Cubs.)

After they came close in 2015, the Cubs seemed like the best team in baseball heading into 2016, and I even predicted the World Series title way back in April.

And all season they played like the best team in baseball--winding up 103-58--and I even said to friends that if they don't win it all, it still would have been a wonderful season.

But despite having had the thrill of attending five of the Cubs' 17 postseason games this year--and ultimately viewing (though not in person) the most satisfying spectator sports victory of my lifetime--I can't deny that there were some challenging moments when the Cubs threatened to be "the Cubs."

Perhaps most especially in Game 7 of the World Series, when after an 8th inning game-tying home run by the Indians' Rajai Davis, it felt like the Cubs might again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as only they could.

And, just to mention it, this came after a playoff run in which the Cubs didn't dominate like they had in the regular season.

In forever remembering the end to the longest major title drought in American professional sports, history is likely to soon forget how the Cubs seemed to teeter on throwing away the NLDS to the Giants before a 9th inning miracle in Game 4 (that precluded a Game 5 vs. aces Cueto & Bumgarner), how anemic they looked in going down 2 games to 1 to the Dodgers in the NLCS and 3-to-1 to the Indians in the World Series.

And even in coming back to even the series at 3 games apiece and leading the Indians by a score of 5-1 and then 6-3 in Game 7, the Cubs, well, they almost made us "wait 'til next year." (Heck, the Indians had the winning run at the plate when the final out was made.)

But, of course, they didn't.

And in thinking about how I might wax philosophical, the truth is that since riding a Greyhound back from Cleveland after World Series Game 2, I've had a pinched nerve making my left hand numb, tingling and/or stiff.

Thus, even in having recited much of this post into my iPhone's Blogger app, typing is proving challenging and painful.

So I think I'll just fill this out with photographs, while telling you that in a life, and even a year, that has provided much fulfillment, enrichment, joy, etc., via many means, I don't think anything--save for life & death situations working out for the better--has made me any happier than the Cubs winning the World Series.

Probably all the more so because it didn't come easy.

At World Series Game 1 in Cleveland
World Series Game 1 in Cleveland

The first pitch of the 2016 World Series

Final score of Game 2

Cubs take the field for Game 5

Down 3 games to 1 and 1-0 in Game 5, this was the swing that began the upswing...
Home Run, Kris Bryant...

Aroldis Chapman closing out the Game 5 Cubs victory with an 8-out save (this wasn't the final pitch).
Cubs stay alive with a 3-2 win in Game 5
"Grandpa" David Ross savoring his last game at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs headed to Cleveland for Games 6 + 7
My mom dousing me with champagne after the Cubs won it all
 Pictures from the Cubs victory parade:

All photos by Seth Arkin, copyright 2016. Please do not repost without permission and attribution.

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