I know that I am going to be busy tonight. If anyone tries to reach me, it is going to be very difficult. I will be busy.
The Chicago Cubs -- the Chicago Cubs!! -- are going to be playing a game that will determine if they will win the World Series after 108 years.
My evening is planned. No need to call until well-after the game is over -- win, lose or...well, there is no draw tonight. This is it.
On Sunday, down three game to one in a Best of Seven series, the Cubs were on the verge of losing the World Series, but have come back to win two consecutive games, and have tied the series at three games apiece. This is notable for another reason other than the obvious -- it is the first time that the Chicago Cubs have won two World Series games in a row in...108 years. The last time that's happened was in 1908.
And yes, that was the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
I want to be clear about something: it will not be shocking to learn that I am not prescient. I have absolutely no idea who will win the final game tonight. I certainly hope it's the Cubs, and it will be a tense night watching the game. But I don't know. Their opponent, the Cleveland Indians, is the American League champion and an extremely good team. They mowed down the two other teams they played during the playoffs, losing only one game between them. Furthermore, Cleveland is playing at home in front of their own vociferous fans. And most important, their starting pitcher is Corey Kluber, who not only won the American League Cy Young Award as best pitcher two years ago -- but he has already not only beat the Cubs twice this series, but stumped the team and completely shut them down cold. Twice, When Cleveland manager Terry Francona announced his pitching schedule after Game One to say that Kluber would be set up to pitch twice more, including Game Seven if necessary, I cringed. Kluber is that good. Which is why the Cubs losing 1-0 at home in Game Four when a gale-force wind was blowing out was so harsh. It's come to pass, there will be a Game Seven with Corey Kluber on the mound. So, by all rights, it seems like Cleveland has the upper hand and should be favored. Alas.
On the other hand, there are some things I can draw hope from. The Cubs are a very good, albeit young team, having won 103 games during the season, the most of any ballclub in the Major Leagues. They've won two games in a row and have momentum on their side. And their own pitcher, Kyle Hendricks, had the lowest Earned Run Average in all of baseball. So, all of that is A Good Thing. It's true that he pitched better at home in Wrigley Field, but he's still a very good pitcher. And in the end, it all comes down to this one game and who plays up to being champion. I dearly hope it's the Cubs. But...we'll see.
Friends have asked if I'm going to a Cubs Party to watch tonight. I'm not. First, I like listening to the Cubs radio cast, rather than the national TV broadcast whose sound I turn off. The radio sound with Pat Hughes isn't synced up though, so most other people in the universe don't prefer that. I'm okay with it. That's who I want to hear, most especially during the playoff, and definitely for Game Seven of the World Series. And secondly, this isn't a communal thing for me. I don't need a crowd to celebrate the joy the moment they the Cubs win, if they do. There's plenty of time for that afterwards. I'll be happy because I'm happy, from all those decades following them, from that lifetime. And the lifetimes before it. The joy will last just fine, thank you. I know that I and other Cubs fans will even be able to watch replays of the game with near-equal enthusiasm. And I most definitely don't need morose commiseration if they lose.
I certainly will be disappointed if they lose. Obviously. But honestly, what most people don't grasp about my reaction through all this is that the Cubs have lost for 108 years. If it's 109 years, so be it, that's just one more. But baseball is more than this one game. The Cubs had a great year. They won 103 games over a season that lasted six months. That's half a year of tremendous entertainment. They won the National League Pennant -- even more entertainment. And they are now playing in the World Series for the first time in my life, and we're at Game Seven -- baseball entertainment doesn't get much better than that up to this point. If the Cubs win -- much as I hope that deeply -- in the end it really, truly, honestly doesn't impact my life. This isn't something I'm saying now as a protective cover: I've said this for years to to utter consternation of my friends who have seen my love of the Cubs endlessly. But I love the Cubs not because it's my life, and if they win, I win, but because it's great, endearing, traditional entertainment that transcends decades and family generations. And if the Cubs win, it's the Cubs whose lives are affected. And that makes me happy. Me, it's fun. It's great and wondrous fun. But -- it's fun. It's so joyous when they win, and always gnawing when they lose -- but the gnawing generally lasts about 30 seconds. This will last longer if they lose the World Series. But...they got to the World Series. They got to Game Seven of the World Series. And so, if they lose, it will be very disappointing, exceedingly so -- but they've lost for 108 years, and as Cubs fans have said for a century, Wait 'Til Next Year.
But...I hope they win. Oh, do I hope they win. As much for my own please as for all the fans and watching the celebration and release and relief in Chicago.
Anyway, I have my evening planned. And my afternoon planned, too, as I prepare.
A couple of people have told me that they won't be watching the game, because they have a bad record of how their favorite teams do when they watch and are afraid they'll jinx the Cubs. That's how maniacal it's all because. Prayer has probably hit a high non-denominational level in Chicago today. Though if that worked in helping determine the final score of a baseball game, it wouldn't have taken the Cubs 108 years to get to this point without a World Series win. What I've explained to them is that not only does the result of the game NOT depend on whether they are watching on television from 2,000 miles away (life just doesn't work like that), but the Cubs have survived 71 years of the Billy Goat Curse. Their jinxing doesn't even register on the jinx scale. But they're not going to watch. One of these people is even an eminent scientist. A PhD in chemistry. The inventor and developer of many products you have sitting on shelves at your home. And he's not even a Cubs fan at heart, he roots for San Francisco who got defeated by the Cubs this playoff. Yet he's rooting for the Cubs -- but won't watch. I don't want to embarrass him by naming him, so I'll leave his name out, but Dr. Gregory Van Buskirk should know better. He's a man of science. He's allowed to watch. (Though I still don't think he's going to.) Win or lose tonight, it's not his fault. Much as I'd like to blame him for the previous 108 years, that's not his fault either.
(Side note: I mentioned this to my cousin Peter Leviton -- who I wrote about here as being central to the Cubs' season having been on the field at Wrigley Field during the park's renovation -- sent a reply back to me about this, "Dr. Gregory Van Buskirk should indeed know better. It doesn't take a PhD to know that once I tap my forehead 15 times, run around the house three times backwards, and sacrifice a small reptile, everything will be okay!! Jinxes schminxes!!!!" As a result, Peter is not avoiding watching the game. He knows better.)
I have no idea what will happen tonight. I hope. But...we'll see.
And so I have my evening planned.