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PostThe End of the World Has Arrived (David Duggan, USA, 11/03/16 1:31 pm)
The End of the World Has Arrived
This morning, the sun rose in the west at 7:27 am Central Daylight Time, the Mississippi River flowed back into Lake Michigan, and the Chicago Cubs are world champions of our national game of baseball, having beaten the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in the longest Game 7 of the World Series in history. A Promethean struggle between two fine teams, the Cubs' 10th inning triumph will likely go down as the most significant battle since, well, Agincourt 601 years ago.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but after 108 years of frustration bordering on futility (the Cubs last won the Series in 1908), last night's (it was actually in the early morning Eastern time when 3rd baseman and likely National League MVP Kris Bryant fielded Michael Martinez's softly hit ground ball and gunned him down with a bullet toss to Anthony Rizzo at first base) contest launched a celebration that will fortunately distract us from the trivialities of elections, the 17 murders in Chicago recorded last weekend, and growing inequality between the 99% of the world who couldn't care less and the 1% who do.
For me personally and my Cubs-centric family, I can only say God must have a sense of humor to have allowed the game to proceed as it did. After taking a 5-1 lead in the top of the 5th, manager Joe Maddon, inexplicably in my view, yanked starter (and Dartmouth alum) Kyle Hendricks with two out and a runner on 1st. Reliever Jon Lester, normally the Cubs' ace starter, threw a wild pitch which led to 2 runs scored. Fortunately, Lester's dedicated catcher David Ross got one of those runs back in the top of the 6th with a solo shot to center field. At 39 and with a tightly trimmed gray beard, Ross was the oldest player to hit a home run in game 7 of the World Series. It proved crucial as in the bottom of the 8th, the Indians scored 3 runs to tie the game at 6, when Rajai Davis hit a 2-run homer off normally lights-out closer Aroldis Chapman. With a fastball regularly hitting triple-digits on the radar gun, Chapman had closed out games 5 and 6 which the Cubs needed to win to force the decider.
Though I live less than a mile from Wrigley, where the bars were charging $100 per head for "viewing parties," I watched from the vantage of my bedroom. Having witnessed too many late-inning and late-season meltdowns to mention, I could barely focus on what was happening in the 8th. The rain delay after the 9th inning compounded the tension, and a fellow Starbucks patron this morning said that he nearly threw up at that point. Taking it way too seriously. I was flossing my teeth when Bryant threw out Martinez to begin the champagne-soaked celebration. At 11:49 pm, my Northeast Ohio resident sister texted me congratulations, acknowledging that "the Cubs are awesome." Bill Murray, as long-suffering a Cubs fan as I am (we were born the same year) joined in the locker-room bacchanalia and got sprayed by Theo Epstein, the president of the Cubs' baseball operations. I didn't know that the Cubs had any other operations.
Sleep was hard to come by as horns honked, helicopters hovered and sirens blared until well past 3 am. The parties continued in both Cleveland and Chicago through the night and the coverage and commentary have dominated even the normally staid classical musical station in town. The curse has been broken, the apocalypse has begun, and THE CUBS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS.
JE comments: This picky editor usually undoes ALL CAPS submissions, but not today. The Cubs are World Champions. David: did you honestly think you would see this day? How many hundreds of thousands of diehard fans lived their whole lives in the 1909-2015 window, with nothing but frustration for their Lovable Losers?
What baseball team now has the longest World Series drought? Why, that would be Cleveland, since 1948. There are plenty of people alive who remember that year.
Can this autumn take any more surprises? Well, five days from now...
Cubs Win the World Series
(Francisco Ramirez, USA
11/04/16 3:47 AM)
Congratulations David Duggan! I thought about David as I watched the game. I used to root for the Brooklyn Dodgers and will never forget 1955 and Johnny Podres: Dodgers 2, Yankees 0. I did not watch that game. Using a transistor radio I heard it in an early Manila morning. I stopped rooting for The Bums when they left Brooklyn. I never stopped rooting against the Yankees.
JE comments: The 1955 World Series went to seven games and was one of the greatest--at least until 2016. The 1956 rematch between the Dodgers and the Yankees went the other way, and is best remembered as featuring Don Larsen's "perfect" game (meaning, no runner reaching base).
Any Yankees fans in WAISworld? Perhaps Hank Levin? Remember the Broadway musical Damn Yankees? The title expresses the sentiment of many.
A Yankees Fan in WAISdom?
(Patrick Mears, Germany
11/05/16 2:53 AM)
Responding to John E's question, [Are] there any Yankees fans in WAISworld?, the answer is: "Yes, and I am one."
My youth in Flint, Michigan, was spent avidly following the progress of the Yankees every baseball season in the late-1950s and during the 1960s, thereby incurring the dislike and even hatred of my cousins and the other neighborhood kids, who were block-headedly Detroit Tigers' fans. I remember my world collapsing in the seven-game series in 1960, when Bill Mazeroski hit his famous walk-off home run leading off in the ninth inning of the seventh game, which home run poor Yogi could only watch helplessly sailing over his head and just clearing the wall in Forbes Field.
The next year, however, brought redemption with Mantle and Maris chasing the Bambino's single-season home run record through September and early October, ending when Maris stroked his 61st over the right-field wall in old Yankee Stadium, "The House that Ruth Built." That August, while on a family vacation to New York City, I watched Maris blast one of his record-setting home runs in a game against the White Sox. Unfortunately, Juan Pizzaro out-pitched Whitey Ford that day to earn the win, with Ford taking one of his four losses that season (measured against 25 wins).
My enthusiasm for the Bronx Bombers again became red hot in the late-1970s, when the Yankees were in the World Series three times while I was beginning my legal career in Manhattan. There, I was surrounded with Yankee fans and often took in games with friends at the Stadium during weekday evenings and on weekends. During these years made it a point to attend the Old-Timers' Games every summer in the Bronx.
I am not sure why, as a kid growing up in Southeast Michigan, I found a passion for this team. It was probably sparked by Mickey Mantle, who was my boyhood hero and one of the best all-around ballplayers ever. But for his recurrent injuries, his late-night carousing at Toots Shor's and his drinking, he may very well have surpassed Ruth in many hitting statistics. Although I don't follow the Yankees that much anymore, that team still holds a place in my heart, notwithstanding that (as someone once said) rooting for them is like rooting for US Steel.
Well, maybe not anymore.
JE comments: It might also have been said that pulling for the Yankees is like being a fan of General Motors (born in Flint, btw). But as Pat Mears phrases is, not anymore. The Cubs were the anti-Yankees in every way, and now the bottom rung is on top.
It would be an interesting psychological study to determine why people "pick" a sports franchise outside their local market. My late father loved the Boston Red Sox, even though he never visited Boston and sadly, never saw them win a World Series. We have Real Madrid fans and Barça fans in the United States, and it's usually for no particular reason.
- Cubs Win the World Series (A. J. Cave, USA 11/04/16 4:50 AM)
Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for winning the World Series. Chicago is my second home after San Francisco, and if the Giants are not playing, I am a cheerleader for the Cubs. It was one of the greatest games ever.
JE comments: Agreed. The Series read like a movie script.
- Cubs Win the World Series (A. J. Cave, USA 11/04/16 4:50 AM)
- A Yankees Fan in WAISdom? (Patrick Mears, Germany 11/05/16 2:53 AM)