Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hey, look. It's next year.

Well. And wasn't this the most Cubs thing ever.

Like ending the Curse or the Drought or the Century Plus Eight Years Of Wait 'Til Next Year was going to  be easy, was going to happen without the Cubs serving up one last portion of Cub-y anguish for its haunted believers. A 5-1 lead in the fifth? A 6-3 lead with four outs to go? What fun is that?

And so here was Joe Maddon making two more sketchy pitching changes, yanking a cruising Kyle Hendricks with a four-run lead and then not allowing Jon Lester to finish out the eighth. And here were the Indians, all but interred, getting two runs out of the first and three out of the second. And here were the Cubs, suddenly, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory again, same as they did in '84 and '03 and who knows how many other times in between.

But this time, not just the baseball gods but even the weather gods would smile upon them.

A passing downpour halted the game for 17 minutes at the end of nine, allowing the Cubs to regroup. Today, or in years hence, you'll never be able to tell anyone in Cubbyville that was simply an accident of meteorology. It was a Sign. It was Fate. It was the anti-Goat.

Because, after all, we know what happened next. Ben Zobrist's RBI double. Miguel Montero's RBI single. Mike Montgomery channeling Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown or some other willing ghost to get the final out of a seventh game those caught up in the moment were calling the greatest ever played.

Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. But there will never be any doubt in the minds of all those Cubs fans whose parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were sitting with them in flesh or in spirit last night. There'll never be any doubt for those who looked out there, as Kris Bryant threw to first for the final out, and saw Ernie Banks smiling and Ron Santo clicking his heels and Harry and Jack Brickhouse fighting over the microphone.

"Cubs win! Cubs win!" Harry's shouting.

"Hey-hey!" Jack's yelping.

So it went, no doubt. And what it obscured, perhaps, is that last night revealed for all time that these were not the same old Cubs, that these Cubs weren't going to allow Goats or Fate or Destiny to do them dirty again.

These Cubs were not even going to blink when they went down 3-1 in the Series and looked hopelessly overmatched by the Indians pitching. These Cubs were not going to let being on the verge last night and then seeing it ripped from their grasp send them trudging down the same old path of weary resignation. These Cubs were ... are ... different.

As in, not particularly Cub-y. And not particularly inclined to consider last night just one swipe of the eraser on the historical blackboard, 1908 finally vanishing after all the long years.

You saw that, weirdly, in the closeup shots of the Cubs at the plate. Looking into their faces, you realized just how young they all are. Kids, really. And most of them are not going anywhere.

Which means this is exactly what Theo Epstein set it up to be: Not just a one-off wonder designed to end a Curse or Drought or A Century Plus Eight Years Of Wait 'Til Next Year, but sustainable excellence that will make the Cubs a power for years to come.

Which means, unavoidably, they will not be Lovable anymore.

But you know what?

Somehow I think Cubs Nation will survive.    

No comments:

Post a Comment