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”

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”

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.”

Miggy Miguel Montero Sketch 103 Cubs

Game 88 // Ninth Inning, Cincinnati // The Reds and the Blues

TOP OF THE NINTH: CUBS 7 (3) – 4 REDS

 

Joe Maddon spits onto the dirt outside the dugout, grinning, his fingers spinning as if he’s winding up string. Dave Martinez smiles. Dexter Fowler smiles. Ten-thousand Cub fan maniacs smile, in the stands around them like an invasion has taken place. A handful of blue figurines lurching ahead on a Risk board—taking Kamchatka, Irkutsk, Cincinnati. Continue reading “Game 88 // Ninth Inning, Cincinnati // The Reds and the Blues”

8-7 Wrigley 2016 Montero Rizzo

Game 82 // Thirteenth Inning, Chicago // Hashtag We Are Good

TOP OF THE THIRTEENTH: CUBS 6 – (6) 7 PIRATES

 

“Freese hits an infield single off the glove of Rob Zaztryz…Zaztrzyz…Zastryzny,” and Len Kasper’s almost worked himself up into a sneeze, stuttering over the strange sounds of too many Z’s.

In the Cubs’ clubhouse the other day (via ESPN), there was one simple question, posed to the team: “Pronounce Rob Zastryzny”—with the full gamut of butcherings drawn out, from the almost-theres to the dead-ass-wrongs. Continue reading “Game 82 // Thirteenth Inning, Chicago // Hashtag We Are Good”

Contreras Marlins Miami Wrigley August

Game 71 // Ninth Inning, Chicago // Simon Says Throw a Wild Pitch

BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: CUBS 5 (2) – 4 MARLINS

 

Sunny afternoon at Wrigley. The dog days of early August. Just out of a mid-season slump. Playoff race unsettled. Season awards unsettled. Onto the stretch before the home stretch. Looking for a win streak, out of the momentum of a wacky three-set against Seattle. Down two runs here now against Miami. A win in doubt amid the Ichiro 3k fanfare. And Miguel Montero leading off with a double, ‘buggy-whipped’ to right, Giancarlo Stanton running it down in the corner. Hustling into second, geriatric joints impeding speed on every step. We are good, he says. We are good. Hashtag we are good. Very good. I am good. All is good. Good and very good. Continue reading “Game 71 // Ninth Inning, Chicago // Simon Says Throw a Wild Pitch”

Ricketts Theo Jed Maddon Cubs

Game 68 // Eighth Inning, Chicago // Release the Chapman!

TOP OF THE EIGHTH: CUBS 2 – 1 WHITE SOX

 

Oh man. Oh man oh man. This is the night, the first of many to come, when Aroldis Chapman will stride before our eyes, assuming a mantle the Chicago Cubs have never had: a closer. A dominant closer. A lights-out force of baseball nature, a Sidd Finch come to life out of April Fools’ fictions, a magician with fastballs for spells, shooting out faster than ever recorded. A piece of the paranormal. Oh man. A great steep step-up from Ohman. Oh man. Chapman. He’s here.

Wrigley Field is electric with hype. Continue reading “Game 68 // Eighth Inning, Chicago // Release the Chapman!”

Anthony Rizzo jersey sketch Cubs win

Game 66 // Seventh Inning, Milwaukee // Rizzo Clears the Bases

TOP OF THE SEVENTH: CUBS 6 (1) – 4 BREWERS

 

The mountains making up the seating decks at Miller Park huddle up with the deep blue of the Great Smokies at sunrise, a monochrome grouped in uniform for the away team—a militia of smiles, armed with beers, invading with cheers and the proud feat of a fanbase that travels better than any of the greats. Marco Polo. Ibn Battuta. Ferdinand Magellan. Cubs Nation, A.D. 2016.

They swarmed Anaheim and Phoenix, sieged St. Louis and stamped a bruise on the seats of Cincinnati. Whispers from city to city, This is the year, is it not?—on a mission from god, crusading ahead in big strides, careful not to wake up the jinx. Continue reading “Game 66 // Seventh Inning, Milwaukee // Rizzo Clears the Bases”