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That weird little wiggle he does with his bat. It’s like he’s revving it up. Never seen anything like it. He hits nearly every ball that comes to him, though.. But it’s Game 7 of the World Series. Why was I focusing on the way his bat moves? Whatever. Okay...what’s the situation...one ball, two strikes? I had hope.
I started watching Cubs games before I could even understand what the heck was happening on the TV. I mean, my family had them on all the time even when I was a baby; I’m surprised my first words weren’t “Sammy Sosa.” Eventually though, I picked it up and I could properly yell at the players for the mistakes they made, despite the fact that they couldn’t hear me. Every game day, our eyes glued to the staticky tube TV that looked like was about to cave into the entertainment system. As we sunk into the couch munching on chocolates or gummy bears, up came Ryan Theriot, or “The Riot.” He was a scrawny little guy, kind of like a mouse. The man didn’t hit a lot, didn’t make many good plays, but he was treasured. Why? Because a decent player on the Cubs was essentially like winning 20 bucks on a scratch off. Theriot slaps one right back to the pitcher, to instantaneously be followed by Grandma berating the TV with “Ahhh sit down ya bum!” That’s who the Cubs were to my grandma: The Bums. Despite that, we love them.
The special and slightly pathetic thing about them was that a win was a big thing. To a Yankees or Red Sox fan, winning was no big deal because it’s what they did. A loss for them was like a win for the Cubs. The Cubbies winning was like being trapped in an elevator filled with distraught construction workers for a week, and then finally being let out. It was like being dropped in the desert and only being able to eat saltine crackers, but then being tossed into a pool with a bowl of ice cream waiting for you. The things that feel the best are the ones that don’t happen often. Sometimes it would be when Soriano blasted one into the stands and my grandma would lift her arms in the air and clap hysterically, letting out that amazing happy cackle that bounced off of the walls. If they actually won, we’d have to celebrate in some small way. It’s the same as if maybe a kid who’s not the brightest gets an A on a test, or maybe you made it to work and all the lights were green, or maybe that one very reserved and scholarly family member drops an F-bomb. Things that don’t happen often always feel the best. What if it was something that hadn’t happened in 108 years?
It was a long October. Hell, it was a long November, and we were only two days in. But the time had come. It was Game 7 of the Cubs and Indians World Series Championship, and there was nothing that could save us. The tension in the room was that of a tightrope, and the walker was losing their balance. My heart beat like machine gun fire, and my fingers made a drum symphony on the coffee table. I didn’t know how to really deal with what I was feeling because I’d never felt it before. Imagine you went 18 years of your life without eating jello. You put the weird, gooey, jiggly substance in your mouth and you’re just kind of like “Okay, this is delicious, but it’s making me feel weird.” It was uncharted ground for a Cubs fan. I shook in my seat as I beheld the Cubs lead off man take his chances, but in what seemed like a momentary lapse of consciousness, the ball ricocheted off of his bat. “Go, go, go, go, go,” I belted as I lept up in disbelief.
“Come on, baby, get there! Get there!” my dad hooted.
It got there.
“Let’s go!” I hooted, followed by “Whoos” and “Yeahs” and the sounds of slapping hands from around the room. The neighbors could call the police for a noise complaint, but it would’ve been pointless because the police could hear it from the station. When I landed, I could do nothing but smile. A two ton pile of weight had risen from my shoulders, as did my worries. Though there were still 9 ½ innings left of baseball, I felt slightly more at peace. My heart now beat at only like 500 bps instead of 1,000. What a relief.
Chicago was up 6-4 in the 8th. All we needed was one more out to have this in the bag. Unfortunately, they had a guy on and Davis was a decent hitter. The room was silent. “Dad, I’m going to grab more water. Dad.”
“What? Oh, sure yeah, no one’s in the bathroom.”
I never got water. The only thing I got was a crushed soul. All I could do was melt back into my seat, about to shed a single tear. Davis’ fist pumped as he sprinted around the diamond, similar to how he pretty much pumped his fist through my chest, grabbed my heart, spit on it, and threw it into a pit of hydrochloric acid. It was like someone handed you a million dollar dollars, stole the money back, and shot you. It was smooth running for the whole game thus far, but we just hit some gravel. Tie game, so essentially, we had to start over. The only difference now was that the heavens were unleashing a storm. I could almost hear the pitter-patter of liquid on the players’ helmets as the camera view became more and more grainy. Eventually, the officials decided to call a rain delay, which twenty minutes later would be known as the most agonizing twenty minutes of my life. I sat there, same as I did before the game began, except my finger-tap-symphony was a bit more melancholy this time around. The situation felt like some sort of primal torture technique subjected upon us by the most sinister of sources, just making us wait like that. Each minute lasted an hour, and as each hour became a thing of the past, my sanity followed suit. I began hopping up and down like a delirious jack rabbit, no doubt making the downstairs neighbors fester a lifetime vendetta against me. When the twenty something hours ticked to end, the game continued.
10th inning. Some evil forces just persecuted us with a seemingly endless, scoreless inning, so the show goes on. The beast of a man, Schwarber stomped up triumphantly, and promptly was able to fist pump his way down to first after a shot up the middle. Right after, the tower of a man, Rizzo, is walked intentionally. Here comes Zobe. He does that wiggle with his bat, like he’s revving it up. “Do what you’ve got to do, man,” I thought. One ball, two strikes. This guy hits nearly everything that comes to him, but now he really needs to work that magic. I’m spazzing out in my seat, just gripping random items around me hoping for some kind of support, but it’s nowhere to be found. My thoughts are akin to Times Square on New Year's Eve, where the chaos just engulfs you.
The ball rockets down the left field line. As if I was a human jack-in-the-box, I sprung out of my seat, hooting and clapping. Almora scored, and the Cubs were back on the track to breaking a 108 year curse. This is the moment when I knew, without a doubt, that they would do it. It was the only way I could possibly imagine this story ending. Over ten years of pent up anticipation was released in the passion of a second.
The baseball wasn’t over yet. Bottom of the 10th. The Cubs need three more strikes to become world champions. The first pitch took hours to reach the catcher. That desire to hear the ball smack that mitt rivaled that of someone stranded in the desert’s need for refreshment. My dad’s heavy breaths muffled the sounds of his foot tapping on the floor. The ball successfully made the treacherous journey to the glove. Strike one. Montgomery took a deep breath, and promptly whipped the ball to repeat. The batter hit a tapper, and everyone sprung out of their seats, my empty glass of water gets launched across the room, shattering beautifully. “Come on. Come on,” I pushed out under my breath. I didn’t have the energy to yell.
“It’s going to be a tough play! Bryant....the Cubs…!” the announcer belted.
And it happened.
Screams of joy echoed throughout the apartment; the walls shook. I lept into my dad’s arms in a moment I’d never forget. Every anxiety, every fear, every worry, all the pent up emotion from 18 years of seeing “maybe next year” released in one wave of happiness. It’s like I had been sleeping for my whole life and I’d finally woken up. I felt warm drips of moisture ooze out of my eyes. Then, I remembered Grandma, and I felt even more blissful because I knew that wherever she was, she was on a couch with a bowl of candy, clapping and releasing that amazing laugh. Because it happened. It happened.