Those of you who frequent our free message board know that our very own Cubby is somewhat of a legend. Old and crotchety, he’s FAM’s lovable grandpa and, as his name makes obvious, he’s also a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.
Long suffering, some say Cubby was around for the last time the Cubs hoisted the trophy in 1908. We may never know the answer to that question, but we do have are his first hand accounts of his game 6 and game 7 jaunt to Cleveland to see the north siders finally break the Curse of the Billy Goat. This is the second and final chapter detailing his grand adventure to the Cleve.
Miss Part 1? No problem! Here it is.
Day 2: Fucking Game 7
We wake up at noon because our buddy knocked on our door and wanted to get lunch. Chris and I are so hungover but agree to leave at 1:00 to eat. Haven’t been this hung since college or law school but okay. We leave at 12:45 and go to a Bob Evans restaurant. The smell of food initially makes me want to vomit. A man that must have been in his 40’s during WWII holds the door open for us as we wait for people with walkers to leave before we enter, he jokes that he should be getting paid for this as it takes 5 minutes before we can enter. The first thing I see are shirts for sale that say “I love you as much as biscuits and gravy – Bob Evans”. We all agree we want one, I’m still debating vomiting. We sit down and immediately we bring the median age in this place down by 30 years, and we’re not young. I order an iced tea, orange juice, coffee and water to drink, the waitress thinks I’m fucking with her because Chris is cracking up, I’m not, bring me my drinks toots. We eat a shit meal and head back to the Red Roof. God I feel like shit. My buddy has a breathalyzer with him (longer story) so we hit that up. Its 2:00 and I blow a .06, and they don’t serve alcohol at the Bob Evans… It feels about right. We are shitting and farting up a storm whilst doing emails and killing time. We’re both nervous as fuck about the game but won’t admit anything to each other. Finally at 4:00 my buddy goes to get tall boys from the gas station as our other friend is coming down at 5:00 so we can Uber to the stadium for the 8:00 game. We pound two tall boys each and our buddy comes by, he remarks how horrible our room smells but we were too inured at that point, smelled fine to us.
Take the Uber downtown, driver was a total tool but nice. Our neurotic friend kept on him about his conservative driving and corny jokes but he was right to do so. Our friend is hilarious and we are laughing our asses off. We go to some bar and hang out for a couple hours but aren’t drinking hard, just enough to keep the edge off. There are Cubs fans everywhere and we are slapping high fives and being cool to the Cleveland fans who are being super cool to us as well.
Head into the stadium, our buddy has standing room only so we part. Chris and I go to our seats in the upper deck behind home. Have to estimate there are at least 50% Cubs fans here, it’s ridiculous. We’re buzzed, but certainly not in the condition of Game 6, I’m nervous but excited. I know Chris is the same, we grew up across the street from each other since the 3rd grade, and we’ve been best friends since then. We were in each other’s weddings and vacation with our families every year etc. etc. We’ve been going to Wrigley together since we were kids, blowing off high school, taking the El, I can’t even venture to guess how many games we’ve seen together.
We’ve got Hendricks on the mound who led the majors in ERA. While the “Professor” closed out the Dodgers in the NLCS, he has been markedly better at home and we’re going against Kluber, who has dominated us, on the road. Either way, we’ve got a chance.
Dexter homers on the third pitch (I think, this is all from memory so excuse me for being wrong on this or later on). We are going nuts. Cleveland ties it soon thereafter. Then Bryant goes on a short fly ball tagging up from third which seemed insane but he slid under the tag and was safe. Cubs 2-1. Okay, at least we are going after it. Fuck. (You’ll probably hear that expression many times following, when my mind can’t really absorb the full reality of something in the moment, that is usually my default thought). Can’t believe he was safe but he was. We’re psyched but nervous, I guess I can stop saying we’re nervous at this point because we were always in that condition…Contreras drives in a run to go up 3-1.
Baez hits one out to right center with no outs in top of the 5th to make it 4-1, which knocked out Kluber. We were excited but that meant a well-rested Miller was coming in, which we all dreaded. At least we got 4 in 4 innings off Kluber, would’ve taken that in a heartbeat if you offered it to me at the beginning of the game. I remember thinking we had to make the 4 runs stand if we want to win. I probably started making bargains with the powers that be at this point, okay, I know I did.
Rizzo drives in Bryant! Now the higher powers are finally listening! Can’t remember specifically what I promised but we are up 5-1 so feeling pretty good. Well, I have an idea, but He/She can’t hold me to all of them right? Most of my offerings were hypotheticals anyways; we hadn’t locked in on any specific one yet. None of this is real, right? Hendricks looks to be on his game, I’m half hopeful right now. Hendricks walks someone and they bring in Lester. We’re all confused/pissed. Of course Lester gives up a swinging bunt that Ross throws away and then gives up two runs on a wild pitch. Of course he does. 5-3. I need to go through what I promised and straighten this out, but before I am able to he gets out of it. Fucking Cubs.
David Ross hits a home run the next inning and we all feel better. David Ross, wow, 6-3. Long way to go but we catch our breath. Lester is a WS veteran and is cruising. Get to the eighth, he gets the first two outs as I recall and gives up a hit or walk, fuck. Joe goes for Chapman. FUCK. We are all appalled, same feeling we had when he pulled Hendricks but wtf, we have to roll with this. It feels like he’s panicking, we are all getting the fear now although we can’t acknowledge it. Seems like a desperate move, Lester is throwing well. Chapman promptly gives up a double and they score a run. 6-4. Fuck. Runner in scoring position but its Chapman, dude throws 103. Although, dude isn’t throwing 103 anymore because dude has been going for 2+ inning saves the last two outings. Fuck. Down in the count, fouls off a few, and then…
Oh my God no. Is this really happening? I’m numb. Numb. I can’t even look at Chris, nor he at me. Maybe numb isn’t the word, I’m hollow. I can barely hear the screaming of ecstasy of the Cleveland fans around me. I’m hollow right now. I can’t believe this is happening again yet I’m surprised that I continue to be surprised by this. Fuck. I feel like I’m going to be physically sick. I want to sit down while the Cleveland fans jump around me but I refuse, because Chris will not sit down either. He finally looks my way and says it’s tied, we can do this. I know he doesn’t believe it any more than I do but we will stand for it. We both know what’s coming, but we will take it like men, like we always have. I remember the next batter hitting a single on the first pitch, or maybe it was a dream, but I looked at Chris and said I can’t watch this. I think Chapman threw a ball to the next hitter, or maybe there wasn’t even a next hitter, and I said I don’t want to watch this. I was half hoping he would say “let’s go”, but I knew he never would and that I didn’t want him to. All I could think was that I can’t face walking out of here, even though the Cleveland fans were awesome and I’d be happy for them. I can’t face flying home in my Cubs gear with the looks of bemusement, disdain or pity from everyone. Why didn’t I pack some Bama gear so I could at least walk through the airports in anonymity? I did that on purpose of course, I wasn’t going to hedge my bets and I wasn’t going to jinx it, all in. But God, I’m sick of wearing this fucking scarlet letter, this fucking red C. I’ve worn it all my life and it meant loser. I hate it, and I’ve never hated it more so than this moment. I wish I could give up, it made me sick to my stomach knowing that I would never give up, that I was destined for more of this. Maybe forever.
Rain Delay (Redemption)
I won’t go into the idiotic Maddon moves in the top of the 9th, we were all waiting for the inevitable. The Baez attempted safety squeeze with two strikes…Jesus. But Chapman came back and closed out a drama free bottom of the ninth, big on him to come back after that last inning as I was fully expecting the end. I wasn’t hollow anymore at this point but I was definitely numb, I knew we were going to lose, we always lose. It started drizzling so they called a halt and I’ll be honest, I was pissed. All I was thinking was let’s get this over with. The rain was light and I thought it was overkill to bring out the tarp, do they really have to drag out my misery? Were the higher powers punishing me even more because they knew my promises were empty? Either way, it was called, so like most people I went to the bathroom, may as well.
Line was predictably way out the door, and I was surrounded by Cubs fans. Young ones, in their mid-late 20’s or early 30’s. I was practically inconsolable but it lifted my spirits to be around them. They were talking about a tie game and how we have a good shot at this. I was thinking that they were fools, they don’t know what’s coming. I do, I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, and I have those scars and with each scar was a lesson. That lesson is you don’t get your hopes up here, the scar can’t cut as deep if you don’t believe. I was young like them once, I believed like they did, and the scars go soul deep. They’ll learn this eventually, but not before they have scars of their own. They made me feel better nonetheless, poor souls, and by the time the game was resumed I was just getting to my seat.
Before I could comprehend anything Schwarber singled. Okay. Bryant came up next and drove one to right center that I thought may have a chance but it was caught at the track for out number 1. Shit! Chris and I look up and Almora (pinch running for Schwarber) is standing at second. We didn’t even see him tag up, but hey, runner in scoring position. They walk Rizzo to bring up Zobrist. Okay…maybe…Zobrist is a pretty clutch hitter.
He gets down 1-2 before punching it down the left field line, we go crazy. We take the lead and have second and third with nobody out. But goddamnit, fucking Montero is up, he of the beer-league softball swing. I was hoping for just a sac fly and he punches one through the infield for a two run lead. We are going nuts, but still terrified for the other shoe to drop, you can’t get too excited as a Cubs fan. Bases loaded after an intentional walk, one out. However, that’s all she wrote…no further runs. Okay, I want to believe, but I’m not sure how. Arrieta is coming in for sure, he can do it right?
Fucking Maddon. Are you fucking kidding me? CJ Edwards? Rookie reliever between us and a World Series win, who could be nervous here? Wtf…I can’t even describe my emotions, it’s like I had left my body. CJ gets a first batter strikeout, we’re screaming. Grounder to Russell, second out…fuck. One more out to go…please! Please! Please! 5 pitch walk, of course, why not? Catcher’s indifference, runner on second….fine. Base hit, sure. 8-7, runner on first. That sick feeling is overwhelming me again but I have my numbness to protect me from what I know is about to happen. Here comes Mike Montgomery, a left hander we got mid-season from the Mariners for nothing. First pitch strike. I can’t take this… Second pitch a slow tapper…my heart stops…but Bryant fields it…his foot slips while throwing but it all happens so fast…
Rizzo’s arms go up!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!! OMG! OMG! They’re celebrating on the field, what does that even mean!? Chris and I are screaming and hugging and hugging all the Cubs fans around us. I can’t process this, are they sure it’s over, they can’t take this away from us right? The couple in front of us, he is kneeling to propose to his girlfriend, I literally thought “If you were waiting for this to propose I’m not sure you really wanted to be married” but we congratulate them anyway. We hug and scream some more, I thought I would cry, I was sure I would cry at this moment but I was so shocked the tears didn’t come. I guess it’s like looking the wrong way crossing a street and barely missing getting hit by a bus coming the other way, there’s no time to reflect, just be thrilled that you’re alive. Fuck.
Call my dad first thing, hear his voice and start to lose it, now the feelings hit me. I can barely choke out any words. Are there any words for this? Maybe it was everyone trying to call someone at that same moment because the call dropped. I try to gather myself and call him again but it doesn’t go through. As I try for the third time his call comes through. I answer and hear his voice. Tears start but he can’t really hear me through the noise, I get out that I love him, that I was thinking of him and he was there with me every pitch of the way. What else is left to say?
We do stupid shit the remainder of the evening and go back to the room at 2:30; I don’t sleep the rest of the night as I have to leave the hotel at 5:30 for my 7:30 am flight. Chris and I just sip on some beers and reminisce, who wants to sleep at this point anyway? Want to wake up and find out it was all a dream? Fuck. The Cubs won the World Series, and I was there.
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