Game 105 // First Inning, Chicago // The Death of the 2017 Chicago Cubs

 TOP OF THE FIRST: PIRATES 10 (0) – 0 CUBS

 

Not yet 1:00pm central time. The sun just at its peak. Fifteen minutes into the first inning at Wrigley, Jon Lester down for the count. Pulled before the first inning ends. The worst of his career.

The world champion Cubs are… the world champion Cubs are… down by 10? It’s the first inning and they—10 runs?

10 runs. 10 runs? Holy cow.

This the end of the Cubs as we know them?

Continue reading “Game 105 // First Inning, Chicago // The Death of the 2017 Chicago Cubs”

Game 104 // Eighth Inning, Houston // The ‘Stros at Night Are Big and Bright…

BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH: ASTROS 7 (3) – 6 YANKEES

 

Red white and blue uniforms. Fourth of July weekend. Betances on the mound throwing 98mph. Texas and New York. Stars and pinstripes. Baseball, at its very American best. 

And those Houston Astros, in full sprint toward the best record in baseball. Their best season since… they’ve never been this good before.

Continue reading “Game 104 // Eighth Inning, Houston // The ‘Stros at Night Are Big and Bright…”

Game 103 // Ninth Inning, Kansas City // Here Come the Royals

TOP OF THE NINTH: ROYALS 1 – (2) 4 BLUE JAYS

 

The two teams that rose, in 2015, from the ashes of two down decades. An ALCS for Toronto, a World Series win for Kansas City. And now, sinking down… down… by the law of averages, back to the bottom. Hopskotch jumping between last place and its closest neighbor—with the dream of 2015 a scrapbook piece for history.

But these Royals, these last few weeks. These last few wins. They onto something? Continue reading “Game 103 // Ninth Inning, Kansas City // Here Come the Royals”

Game 102 // Fifth Inning, Detroit // No Miggy, No Problem

BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH: TIGERS 16 (7) – 4 MARINERS

 

More runs in a single inning than you’ll see all year—nineteen in the game, nine in the fifth, storming home in front of Detroit’s home faithful. The first warm breeze of almost-summer easing into the ballpark, thinking they might not squander away the Miguel Cabrera years after all. That there may yet be something left.

He’s on the bench, healing, recovering. Watching. Thinking. Trying his best to hope.

Continue reading “Game 102 // Fifth Inning, Detroit // No Miggy, No Problem”

Game 101 // First Inning, Philadelphia // Worst Birthday in Baseball History: The End of The Jeremy Guthrie Era

BOTTOM OF THE FIRST: PHILLIES 12 (0) – 0 NATIONALS

 

It’ll happen to them all someday. The knees creak, the vision dims. The fastball speed drops below 90, the run to first base slows down. The baseball death knell marks the end of a career.

But not like this. Not ever like this. On his birthday?

Baseball death on April 8th, 2017. Goodbye, Mr. Jeremy Guthrie. Continue reading “Game 101 // First Inning, Philadelphia // Worst Birthday in Baseball History: The End of The Jeremy Guthrie Era”

Bryant Throw Final Out seven

Game 100 // Tenth Inning, Cleveland // You Can Only End the Drought With a Little Rain, Or: How You Learned to Stop Worrying and Witness the Greatest Game in a Century (A Treatise on Heaven)

There’s almost a certain sadness to it all. Winning, against two lifetimes of failure. Peering out through the morning fog of the battlefield, seeing an arch-enemy finally downed. Shot, and stabbed, crying out and writhing—its innards eviscerated, a row of knives sticking up from its back.

You start to feel mercy—what did that poor Billy Goat ever do to deserve this?

Can we at least wish it a happy goodbye?

There’s a sadness to it all, in the end. In the end. The end. The most heartbreaking book you’ve ever read—but ending? You never told the author you’d wanted an ending. Not for real. Continue reading “Game 100 // Tenth Inning, Cleveland // You Can Only End the Drought With a Little Rain, Or: How You Learned to Stop Worrying and Witness the Greatest Game in a Century (A Treatise on Heaven)”

Game 99 // Third Inning, Cleveland // A Ball Off the Bat of Addison Russell

TOP OF THE THIRD: CUBS 7 (3) – 0 INDIANS

 

You’d be wise, not to blow all your smiles on a Game Six. You might not want to shout. Keep the champagne corked. Leave some green in your wallet. Don’t hug all your neighbors. Don’t profess new faith in the gods. Not yet.

Don’t jump in your seat so much your soles wear down. Don’t start a brawl with the Cleveland legion. When the Cubs win, don’t unbuckle your belt, and drop trow in the aisle. Don’t hop the dugout roof and don’t run streaking onto the field. Don’t end up buck naked overnight in a Cleveland holding cell. Keep some minimum of your clothes on. Keep your wits about you. You might need them for tomorrow.

Continue reading “Game 99 // Third Inning, Cleveland // A Ball Off the Bat of Addison Russell”

Jason Kipnis Dagger Home Run

Game 98 // Seventh Inning, Chicago // Falling Down

TOP OF THE SEVENTH: INDIANS 7 (4) – 1 CUBS

  

With no outs: Coco Crisp doubles to center. Rajai Davis hit by a pitch. Jason Kipnis sends a three-run homer soaring into the bleachers in right. The score’s 7-1.

Things. Go. Quiet. Your head falls into your lap. You close your eyes.

 

IN A DREAM—YOU ENTER WHAMMY BURGER, APPROACH THE COUNTER.

 

Sheila: Hi, can I help you?

YOU: Yes, I’d like a two-run single and a rally starter.

Sheila: I’m sorry, we’ve stopped serving Cubs but we are on the Indians menu now.

YOU: But I want offense.

Sheila: You can’t have it, we’re not serving it.

YOU: So you said. Is that the manager?

Sheila: (sighs) Yeah.

YOU: Could I speak to him please? Continue reading “Game 98 // Seventh Inning, Chicago // Falling Down”

Cleveland Chicago 2016 Game One 1

Game 97 // First Inning, Cleveland // We’ve Waited A Sure Long While

WORLD SERIES 2016: GAME ONE


 

There’s an old saying by Cub fans, repeated over the land, that goes: “Oh my god—we’re in the World Series? The World Series!?”

Old, so old, as old as three unreal, brave-new-world days. When those words burst into the talk, pinging around at full speed, fan to ecstatic fan. Appearing one day in bold, drawn big onto the great Cub-fan blackboard in the sky, erasing all others in one big swipe—“Wait ‘til next year…” chalked away into a smudge. Continue reading “Game 97 // First Inning, Cleveland // We’ve Waited A Sure Long While”

Kershaw Save Bullpen NLDS Clayton

Game 96 // Ninth Inning, Washington // A Salute, to Your 2016 L.A. Dodgers

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: DODGERS 4 – 3 NATIONALS

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers of the year 2016. Champions of the N.L. West. Surmounters of the fearful Giants, beaters of the odds, overcomers of the expectations, endurers over the injuries, prudent protectors of the blisters, demoters of the Puig, promoters of the Puig, winking smiling last-laughers over the doubters. Party-throwers for Sir Vin’s last major-league run. Victors, in this last great win, over the Washington Nationals. Continue reading “Game 96 // Ninth Inning, Washington // A Salute, to Your 2016 L.A. Dodgers”

Game 95 // Ninth Inning, Chicago // The Cubbies Win the Pennant

TOP OF THE NINTH: CUBS 5 – 0 DODGERS

 

Chapman on the mound. Hernandez strikes out. Ruiz walks. Puig grounds to short. Russell to Baez to Rizzo. Double play. Cubs win.

*          *          *

What can be said about this game that hasn’t already been said about Christmas morning? Better than that. The first day of a summer break. Better than that. Evening fireworks on the 4th of July. That, too. Better than all. A graduation, an engagement, a marriage, a festival, a celebration. An outdoor fete to anything.

A birthday. Each one of them. For each one of us. Happening at once. Jammed together onto one calendar day. A four-hour party for a whole world of twins, newly made. Smiling the same smiles, unwrapping the same big gift. Sharing matching outfits in blue. Sharing it all. Continue reading “Game 95 // Ninth Inning, Chicago // The Cubbies Win the Pennant”

Game 4 Dodgers 2016 4th Inning Sketch

Game 94 // Fourth Inning, L.A. // Ben Zobrist, Bunt of the Year

TOP OF THE FOURTH: CUBS 4 (0) – 0 DODGERS

 

A scoreless game, a fourth inning beginning, a one-game NLCS lead, a packed house at Dodger Stadium, a front row seat for one Larry King, slumped half-snoozing through the early goings. A 20-year-old dealing on the mound, a teamful of bats gone cold, a destined Cubs run teetering near premature collapse.

And a Ben Zobrist at the plate. A bunt on the first pitch of the inning. Continue reading “Game 94 // Fourth Inning, L.A. // Ben Zobrist, Bunt of the Year”

Game 93 // Eighth Inning, Chicago // The Montero Slam

CUBS 8 – 4 DODGERS


I’m three beers down.

It’s 3:00 AM.

I barely remember the night that was.

The Cubs win that was.

The Miguel Montero grand-slam home run that was.

The bedlam insanity hugfest mad jumping screaming whooping dancing hollering crying smacking yelling wild scene that Wrigley Field was.

Continue reading “Game 93 // Eighth Inning, Chicago // The Montero Slam”

Game 92 // Ninth Inning, San Francisco // The Great Cubs Miracle

9:25: A scoreless top of the fourth passes. Three up, three down. Hopeless dread circling and stabbing at my head. I know a losing Cubs team when I see one. I know it I know it I know it I sadly know it.

9:30: Put running shorts on, tie shoes. Glance at TV on the way to the door. Hear mom say “argh… bases loaded?” Hear the crack of the bat and a cheering ballpark, through the TV speakers. Hear dad say “Matt freaking Moore?”—and assume the worst. Continue reading “Game 92 // Ninth Inning, San Francisco // The Great Cubs Miracle”

Game 91 // Second Inning, Chicago // Cubs. October. Samardzija. Wrigley.

BOTTOM OF THE SECOND: CUBS 4 (1) – 0 GIANTS

 

Our good friend Jeff Samardzija. Football son of Notre Dame. Chicago Cubs draftee. Starter for the 2015 Chicago White Sox. And finally, finally!, he’s stepped up big for this city. Brought home the big one. Poised atop the mound for playoff baseball, the league-best Cubs at home, at old Wrigley, the fans in eager hope of a deep run, our good friend Jeff Samardzija—stepping up to do his part. Bringing home that win he was drafted for, just like we all hope he would.

Thank you, from the bottom of this Cub fan’s heart, for shitting the bed in Game 2 for these San Francisco Giants. You’re the hero this city deserves. Continue reading “Game 91 // Second Inning, Chicago // Cubs. October. Samardzija. Wrigley.”