Hey, Cubs Fans, was the party worth the hangover?
Saturday at 7:28 pm
So, fellow Cubs fans, was it worth it?
I remember writing a column back on October 30, 2016, an open letter to the Chicago Cubs. It started this way:
I know you’re busy. I’m guessing you’ve got several things going on today as you prepare for the fifth game of the World Series. Of course, I know you’re down 3 -1 to the Indians, and I know last night was tough. I watched your eyes as you saw it slipping away. I saw some of you start to lose your composure, swinging wildly, making out-of-character throws. I saw your manager trying to figure out what lever to pull, while pulling pitcher after pitcher out of the game. I saw the fans, stunned, quiet, some crying.
Yes, I saw it all.
But even with all that, I want you to know something.
That I’m proud of you. And I’m thankful for everything you’ve given us this year. Oh, yeah, and one other thing.
You can still win this.”
The column went on, but you get the picture. As a life-long Cubs fan, someone who’d sat through many “next years,” that team had made a real difference in my life.
Now, of course, any Chicagoan and probably anyone around the world, including those steadfast researchers in Antarctica, can tell you what came next. The Cubs ended up winning three straight games, including the seventh game of the World Series after the most famous rain delay in sports.
Then came the party.
And the party after the party.
And the buses filled with Cubs players and the Championship trophy.
And Grant Park.
And the hoisting of new flags above Wrigley Field.
And it was glorious.
But, man, has the hangover been rough.
I mean, seriously, doesn’t it feel like every season since that season has been worse? With starting pitchers trying to make it into the fifth and oh-so-blown ninth inning leads. And free agents being signed who look like they should have actually been free or at least on clearance. And base-running mistakes and errors and realizing that, if we had runners on and there were two outs, then there might as well have been three. And many of our superstars going a little dim, while David Ross tried dancing with some other stars. And injuries. And Zobrist, though, of course, that was hard and personal stuff.
Speaking of stuff, how about those Joe Ricketts emails, and Maddon ─ a favorite of mine notwithstanding some bizarre playoff bullpen moves and not taking accountability for almost blowing the World Series ─ turning from slogan maker to the uncle who’s just waking up from a nap? And watching like sad children as the Cubs and WGN divided up the books and dishes during their divorce, and Bryant’s seemingly decade-long arbitration hearing and trade rumors, to then hearing that the most exciting player to happen to the Cubs in a while, Nick Castellanos, will now be seeing Red.
From trying not to suck to actually sucking.
Now, I don’t mean to be a downer.
And, I’m definitely grateful.
But I still wanted to ask.
Was it worth it?
All this gunk after ─ balanced against that one World Series win.
Just like 1987, 88, 89, etc., for the Bears after their Super Bowl win, then Trestman and Fox and “telegenic Cody” after the final clang echoed.
Was it worth it?
In my eyes, after giving it careful consideration, after assessing all the variables, after measuring all the angles, and evaluating all the evaluatables, I only have one thing to say.
I remember watching that last out in 2016.
I wasn’t sitting on the couch anymore. I was standing. Close to the TV, as if my presence could somehow help them win, as I were there, on the field.
The grounder hit by the Cleveland Indian’s Michael Martinez off Mike Montgomery. It went right to Kris Bryant.
But, still, catastrophe loomed. After all, as mentioned earlier in our story, it had just rained. Briefly but hard, a storm that tracked right over Progressive Field, and would start up again later and last all through the night. A storm that brought Jason Heyward the moment that erased his countless flailing strikeouts.
A rain that meant the grass was slick. A perfect “Cubby re-occurrence.”
I tensed as Bryant got the ball and went to make the throw ─ and almost slipped.
Then relief. And joy. And a level of emotion I never expected. After all, it was just baseball, wasn’t it?
No, it wasn’t.
It was more.
It was thinking about my Mom and Dad who loved the Cubs – when they were here.
It was hugging and kissing my wife, Gina, knowing we were sharing an unforgettable moment.
It was talking to our kids and other family members on the phone right after.
Yes, as they say in the movies, after Rizzo safely caught the ball from Bryant, tucked it in his back pocket and raised his arms in victory while running towards the others, everything was a blur.
A long and glorious blur of people waiting in line to buy championship T-shirts, and flying Cubs flags on cars, and everyone walking around with that crazy crooked smile. Oh yeah, and lots of jokes about how close Spielberg got it with “Back to the Future, Part II.”
So, after all that, was it worth it?
The long hangover afterwards.
All the things since.
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