“‘Cause I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
I’m on top of the world, ‘ey
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ey
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ey
Take it with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world”
I have been struggling the last couple of days to put everything into words. What follows is a jumble of thoughts tied together by one string: the Cubs won the World Series.
I have never been to Wrigley Field. I’ve never been anywhere near Chicago. I was born a third generation Cubs fan. Just like the vast majority of the Cubs Nation, I have been waiting my entire life for them to win the National League Championship and reach the World Series. As far as winning the World Series, well, that’s an even older dream.
I know all about goats, rally caps, heartbreak, and “next year.” I lived through 2003 and 2015. But there was no doubt in my mind that the Chicago Cubs could win the 2016 World Series
Due to work, school, and TV issues, I wasn’t able to start watching the World Series until Game 4. My Cubbies didn’t look like World Champions and that old, familiar feeling started to creep in. But not for long.
Game 5 was a pleasure to watch. Not only were the Cubs’ power hitters back on fire, but they also made some incredible defensive plays.
Watching the W flag being raised while listening to an enthusiastic crowd singing Go Cubs Go after they won gave me chills.
But I really think they should change the lyrics.
I was at work for the first inning of Game 6. You know, the inning in which Kris Bryant hit another solo home run and Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist scored after the Cleveland outfield missed Addison Russell’s fly. My brother was texting me “did you see that?” Nope and it took forever for Fox to run the replays. I just want to go on the record saying that the footage of Zobrist tackling Cleveland’s catcher has not been played often enough. (At least not in the state where I live.)
Fortunately, the Cubs weren’t done making history. Addison Russell became the second youngest player to hit a Grand Slam in the World Series. (I don’t know who got that ball, but I hope it was a Cubs fan.) It was super nice of Russell to hit a Grand Slam so that the recovering Kyle Schwarber wouldn’t have to wear out his leg.
Only one game stood between the Cubs and the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Where do I even begin with Game 7? On one hand, after the blow-out in Game 6, I felt very confident that the Cubs could win. But I was afraid of disappointment (again).
Anthony Rizzo was all of us.
(Sorry, this is the best video I could find.)
“It’s only going to get worse. . . . wait until the ninth.” Words that were only too true.
Dexter Fowler’s lead-off home run put all my fears to rest. So much for Cleveland’s pitching being virtually invincible.
For me the most shocking hit of the night was Javy Báez’s home run. He had been doing so poorly at the plate that I started assuming that he would strike out swinging at balls every time. Guess I forgot he’s a Cub.
The Bryzzo Souvenir Company was at work again in the 5th. Can someone clock Bryant’s base running? I’m pretty sure he was getting faster as he ran from 1st to home after Rizzo’s double.
Wait, they did. http://m.mlb.com/video/v1210990383
With the Cubs up 5-1, Joe Maddon did what he said he wouldn’t do; he put John Lester into a “dirty” inning. As an armchair manager, I do not understand that decision. The fans instantly regretted it as the Indians scored two runs.
But without the pitching change there wouldn’t have been the homer by David Ross. How many players can say that they homered in the last game of their careers which also happened to be Game 7 of the World Series? It was a great moment.
6-3. Bottom of the 8th. All was quite in Cleveland. The Indians fans and players looked dejected. It was as if the game were already over.
The Cubs bad luck with pitching changes continued. Chapman came into the game needing only one out to end the inning. Instead of a quick end to the inning, Cleveland scored three runs. Three. The game was tied. And the crowd got really loud.
I have never been so tense in all my life. Who planned for National Stress Awareness Day to coincide with Game 7? I didn’t need a stethoscope to know that my heart wasn’t beating normal. I couldn’t sit still. I alternated between pacing the floor and rocking on my heels. I needed someone’s arm to squeeze. I needed someone to talk with, but my roommates were in bed. So I called my sister. We vacillated between “I can’t believe this is happening; I’m going to be sick” and “The Cubs are awesome; we’re totally going to win.”
Unfortunately, the bottom of the Cubs lineup was up to bat. Regardless of the fact that two of those guys had already hit homers that evening, I wasn’t confident they could score. They did well, though, just not well enough.
It all came down to defense. The Cubs had to hold the fort or else. Against the prime of Cleveland’s lineup. Kipnis came to the plate. Over the course of the series, I had developed a dislike for him (that’s actually a compliment). He made me nervous. When he hit the ball, I thought it was a home run and the game was over. I felt like my heart stopped. Tears rushed up. But it was foul. (And looking at the replay, I’m not sure that it would have even been a home run fair.) I started breathing again–in a manner of speaking.
Then came the rain. At first, I was annoyed. It was already midnight, and I had an 8:00 am class. However I remembered the Super Bowl between the Harbaugh brothers. San Francisco had the momentum when the power suddenly went out at the stadium. Baltimore came back and won the game. A pause was exactly what the Cubs needed. And, as we learned later, a team meeting led by Jason Heyward.
The rain delay gave me a chance to regain composure too. I called my parents. My dad was calm and confident. My mom (who married into the Cubs Nation) gave me her someone-has-to-lose and they’ve-done-really-great-things-this-year-and-should-be-proud-of-themselves speeches. I did not want to be consoled. Not yet. Not ever.
The 10th inning was the best possible scenario for the Cubs. The power quartet of Schwarber, Bryant, Rizzo, and Zobrist were up. If they couldn’t score now, they weren’t going to win the game.
Schwarber’s base hit set the tone for the inning. I was really hoping that Bryant would go all the way. (Duh, so was everyone else.)
I wonder how it feels to be intentionally walked in a moment such as this? Walking Rizzo was, of course, the smart thing for Cleveland to do. However, as a fan, I was angry that one of our stars was being robbed of the chance to make a big play. On a personal level, I felt sad for Rizzo who had to be incredibly disappointed.
Here’s the deal. When choosing your poison, as John Smoltz said Cleveland was doing, remember both options are poisonous. Dependable Ben proved that. He smashed both the ball and second base. I had to switch my phone to the other side; my ear was ringing from my sister and her friends screaming in it. The question was no longer would the Cubs score, but how many runs would the score.
For some reason, Cleveland thought it would be better to load the bases than to let Russell hit another home run. I was too pumped to care much. Remember what happened the last time the Indians intentionally walked a Cub–someone scored.
“Don’t hit a double play,” I telepathically told Miguel Montero. Of course he didn’t. Somehow that little single feels much bigger than the grand slam he hit during the NLCS. He became the third Cubs catcher of the night to get an RBI. And his turned out to be the winning one.
Cleveland was up to bat and the nervousness the Cubs offense had dispelled quickly returned. The bottom of the 10th felt like a rerun of the 8th. I was once again on the phone with my sister, and pounding my fist into the carpet.
One out. Two outs.
The tying run was on first and a batter I’m not familiar with was at the plate. To my horror, he made contact. I didn’t stay horrified long.
I will never tire of replaying that last out.
All I could do was lay on the floor and laugh. Laugh for joy. Laugh in relief. Laugh because of Kris Bryant.
I wholeheartedly agree with Fowler. I feel like I aged an entire season during that game.
I am ecstatic on many levels. First, because my team won the World Series. No matter which team you pull for or how many times they have won a championship, it is always an incredible event when they win again.
I am overjoyed for Cubs fans. The Cubs fan network not like any other fandom. It is a special identity. There’s an instant emotional bond that ties you to complete strangers. You know what they’ve been through. Whenever the camera shows crowd shots, I always know exactly what the Cubs fans and thinking and feeling. You know that they are resilient, loyal, and good humored (usually) individuals who never stop believing. You may never see that person again, but you’re friends. You may not even like the person, but finding out they are a Cubs fan makes you look at them with a new perspective.
I am elated for the Cubs organization. Teddy Roosevelt was president when the Cubs won the World Series in 1908. None of my grandparents had been born. Women couldn’t vote. World War I was six years away. Little House in the Big Woods had not yet been published. A 108 drought gives a team a reputation. It’s no fun to be known as the lovable losers. All of that is in the past.
I am delighted for the 2016 team. The chemistry between them has been magical. Seriously, the camaraderie exhibited between the players is my goal for co-workers and friends. I hope they get to play together for several more seasons.
I am thrilled for the individual players. They have reached the pinnacle of their sport. David Ross is ending his career on the highest note possible. But most of the Cubs players are young and have a long way to go in their careers.
I only wish that my Grandpa were still alive to see their victory. He went on to heaven November 3 two years ago.