it started as a dream a little kid has when he’s playing a made up game of throwing a ball at the side of a house.
he throws it hard at some moulding and if it lands on the street its a single, in the grass a double, if it hits the tree its a triple and if hits the neighbors fence its a homer.
if it goes over the neighbors fence its an out and the game is over.
every time the goal is to get the cubs into the world series.
now the game is to help them win.
so there are more imaginary games: if i wear this cap they’ll win, if i wear this jersey, if i say my prayers, if i wear this undershirt, if i kiss this girl, if i change this blog header, if i eat this hot dog.
if i leave game five of the playoffs in frisco.
so far things have worked.
because it was the cubs it was a bumpy road, but no one wanted the cubs (who were the favorites to win the whole thing) to just coast into the world series. and they did not coast. they had to win some tough games against the game’s best pitchers. they had to win on the road, they had to win with young players, they had to win with old players.
and for the most part the unlikely heroes at the plate were catchers and pitchers.
so walking from my Lyft a few blocks away from Wrigley and seeing almost every single person wearing Cubs jerseys and hats and tshirts and ski caps and sweaters and scarves and pajamas(!) i nearly cried right there because all of this was coming true. and so much of it was due to Theo Epstein who put the team together, the Ricketts family who paid for it, and Joe Maddon who managed them.
basically a handful of strangers i’ve never met (and probably never will) have revitalized this part of Chicago, my favorite part, and did so in a classy way. so when i took this selfie in front of Harry, i was at the edge of tears because those strangers and all of my friends and readers had bought me a bleacher ticket in the second row for the World Series.
and it was no longer a fantasy day dream. it was really happening.
when i got it back together i saw another emotional scene that’s not getting a lot of play on tv or in the news: actual native americans who hate the fact that the cleveland baseball team is called the Indians and has a logo that would never be approved today.
they have a long list of complaints, the first being that they are not from India. the name alone is racist ignorance based on a mistake by Columbus’s peers that they had reached India. but also they hate the fact that they are not being heard. No one today would name a team the Wisconsin Whiteys or the Jersey Jews. why do we continue to go on with being ok with calling them the Cleveland Indians when the actual natives, whose land was stolen and whose people were kicked out, do not like the name?
so instantly i was grounded. and i thanked them for being there.
i got in the park, found my way next to the ivy and i sat next to a really nice dude from Seattle named Brian who had season seats there in the bleachers for quite a while. he was the perfect guy to sit next to because he really knew the game.
he and his wife come out to Wrigley 3-4 times a year he told me but throughout the season his Chicago family uses the tickets and the rest they sell.
next to him was a lady and her daughter. the lady was a senior citizen and her daughter said the night before she had gotten drunk at the game. join the crowd!
the lady had these Cubs earrings and when i complimented her on them she asked if i had a wife. i said are you proposing? she said “if you did have a wife i would give them to you to give to her.”
THAT IS A CUB FAN RIGHT THERE.
the bleachers were packed. we were squeezed in pretty tight. but it was ok. but i couldnt eat. i scarfed down my dog, nibbled on my nachos but couldnt make a dent in them. the cubs scored early but cleveland answered with a homer. so i left to get an Old Style.
huge mistake because the Cubs gave up another run and by the time i was back in my seat and we were down 2-1.
that took the air right out of us. the first inning we were standing and cheering every pitch. by the third we were sitting and probably all thinking, “is this the Cubs that we grew up with? are these the guys we fell in love with and then they break our hearts?”
earlier Mark Prior had stood on the mound and the young lady he was with and didnt throw out the first pitch. she just placed the ball on the rubber and they posed for a picture. WTF? was that an omen.
before that Cub hall of famers Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux actually did throw out the first pitch(es) side by side but their expressions were also like WTF. then Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm (WTF?) gave a one minute pep talk… but he’s from Curb YOUR ENTHUSIASM! Bill Murray is in the house, someone please hand him the mic. Or 329089 year old Dorothy. Someone give her a Jager bottle and have her toast the 41,000 in attendance and all our ships at sea! Why are we letting some tv “star” be our voice?
Garlin should have been replaced by these sweet ladies who were sitting in the bleachers for the first time ever who sported buttons of their deceased parents. they told me their parents loved the Cubs and this was their way of bringing them to something they had never gotten to experience: a World Series game at Wrigley.
THOSE ARE CUB FANS RIGHT THERE!
and then the craziest thing happened. bottom of the seventh, lead off hitter Dexter Fowler is up.
the guy in front of me and to the left one is asked by the guy next to him “do you always bring your glove to the game when you sit in the bleachers?”
guy says, “i always sit in the bleachers and i always bring my mitt but i have never caught a ball.”
everyone starts yelling. the ball is getting close. it might be, it could be. HOME RUN AND IT LANDS RIGHT IN HIS GLOVE SERIOUSLY ONE MINUTE AFTER HE HAD SAID WHAT HE SAID
and stranger still, all of my friends who were watching on TV screengrabbed the picture, i guess looking for me, and there i was: Exactly where they had put me in the second row of my beloved bleachers at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field
and yes i am holding my second Old Style and no i did not spill it. (as that would be alcohol abuse)
everyone took pictures with the guy with the ball but he would not let anyone touch it. and who can blame him.
then one guy said if you go to the Cubs they’ll authorize it for you and he said fuck that.
and another guy (me) said if you show it to Dexter maybe he’ll trade it for a bat or his jersey and he was all fuck that.
and this guy from Switzerland said “ive come from Switzerland, may I touch it?” and he said fuck that.
AND I HAD ZERO PROBLEMS WITH ANY OF THAT.
i said, dude, everyone wants to touch your balls!
but maybe the thing i loved the most was that people asked online “i thought you woulda been wearing your Cubs hat” and i was all, duh i WAS! i had my hat on inside out
because thats what you should do in the late innings to get a rally going. it’s called a Rally Cap
and in a weird way it worked. and i kept it that way as we headed into the 8th and i got this picture with my new pal.
as you know the Cubs didn’t win. so i walked around in a daze. people werent really partying. but they were still buying up merch. i bought a ball and a pin inside but i lost them because i havent been able to focus on anything for the entire month. its a miracle im even alive. or employed. or not married to a crazy person with a José Cardenal jersey.
ran into this guy who was paying people for their used ticket stubs because the word is on ebay theyre going for $50. i asked if he had any takers. he said “I was paying $12, someone gave me a $10, I thought it was a $20, so i gave her $10 back, so im actually down $2.”
and you know, that’s a Cub fan
lets win two tonight.