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.

Don’t blow all your smiles on Game Six. Keep cool, for the best Cubs game in a century.

To keep cool—the biggest challenge of them all.

On the brink of the promised land.

You’re Borat Sagdiyev. You’ve traversed the continent in a van, waiting patiently in service of a dream. Waiting, as if the whole world depends on it, to meet your Pamela Anderson. Don’t blow it. Or you might have nothing. You’ve dreamed of it. Don’t ruin it. There you are, in California, face to face at the Virgin Megastore.

 

 

Don’t (!) be Borat. You’re this close to Pamela Anderson Game Seven.

Just get your autograph. Smile, say hello. Feel the sense of accomplishment. Finality. You’ve finally arrived. This is big. You’ve got your Game Seven, after this Game Six ends. Just make sure you’re around to see it. Don’t spazz. Don’t run on the field. Don’t taunt a Clevelander. Don’t blow it.

There’s something big on the way, tomorrow.

But boy, is this a wonder or what?

 

Progressive Field November 2016

 

Here’s how it came together:

Dinner table. Day after Game Five. When you cheered your heart out, spent the whole night standing, watched the dream persist through the cold. Somehow, tickets. A road trip plan. Packing a bag and loading the car the next morning. Driving out.

 

 

A swarm of crusading Cub fan nomads. Smiling at the urinals in the highway rest stop bathrooms, exchanging knowing nods in the parking lot. Seeing the blue on every shirt, the flag on every car. South Bend. Elkhart. Toledo. Fremont. Then Cleveland.

 

 

Get off the highway. Check in to the hotel, check out of the hotel. Walk over to the ballpark. Get there early. See what a World Series looks like. Forget for a moment about all the history—just think, This is what a World Series looks like. 

 

 

Watch the national media corps assemble outside the dugout and then scatter, thirty minutes before game time. Find your seat. Sit and watch it begin. Arrieta on the mound. 75 degrees. Some weird magic out there in the air. 

 

 

And with one swing of the bat, you had your moment. That a Game 7 will be happening.

Thwack!

The ball booms off the wood, flies over the wall and into the concourse walkway of the left-field bleachers, bouncing around off the concrete—off into history.

You’re Dr. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park. Your eyes going wide, mouthing to yourself: “Grand slam.. World Series? This hasn’t been around since the Cretaceous Period…”

 

 

It happened. It did. A Game Six brought us a Game Seven. 

The Cubs will play the Indians. For the championship. 1908 vs. 1948.

Bill Murray was there to see it.

 

 

Dave “Schwarb-O-Meter” Cihla was there.

 

 

Phil Townsend was there, brought by family. And many others like him.

 

 

Tom Ricketts was there.

 

 

Little old ladies were there. Your good-luck charm was there.

 

  

Something you’d never seen before was there.

Heaven was there.

 

 

Previously:

Inning 95: The Cubbies Win the Pennant

Inning 92: The Comeback

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