Friday, November 4, 2016
Fly the W: Cubs Win, Cubs Win!
I remember the summer of '95 like it was yesterday.
like most mid ‘90’s southside converts, I couldn’t get enough of the legendary Harry Caray, his underrated partner in ‘prime’, Steve Stone, the pre-steroid Sammy Sosa, the consistency of Mark Grace, the defensive reliability of Brian McRae, the sage shortstop play of Shawon Dunston, home runs hit to Waveland Avenue, and the goosebumps every time I heard, ‘This is America’s #1 sports station, WGN-TV…Chicagooo…’
I remember every Sunday, I’d run out to the driveway, collect the morning newspaper, pull out the TV guide, and circle all the Cubs telecasts. And if the Cubs were off, I’d simply pop in ‘The Rookie’, ‘Major League’ or ‘Angels in the Outfield’ to hold me over.
Then the skies start to darken. Grissom singles, Pendleton walks. Bye, bye, Wendell. Enter Larry Casian. Chipper Jones hits a RBI single to right scoring Grissom and sending Pendleton to third. Up next? Fred freakin’ McGriff.
From my view, he was a peanut, but down on the ground, 1996 McGriff was legit S.I. cover material fresh off a 1995 World Series win. The guy was loaded and everyone knew it. So when he stepped into his stance, I was dropping back in my seat.
After all, I may have been 10, but I was old enough to know what happens next…
Fourth pitch…Casian winds. I close my eyes. Suddenly…*CRACK*. The ball is up, it is high…it is gone.
Braves win 6-5 on a three-run bomb by McGriff. The crowd is going bananas. Strangers are high-fiving. Tears of joy and secondhand alcohol are flying across the stadium. But there I was…crushed like the day my fourth grade teacher gave me my first C ever in reading comprehension.
Flash-forward twenty years after the Fulton County collapse of ’96 and I’m lying in bed next to my wife watching last night’s game 7 on my iPhone, where once again, the Cubs are blowing a sizable lead. Chapman is doing un-Chapman like things. The momentum is rapidly shifting. And the spirit of McGriff has apparently penetrated the bat of Rajai Davis. I look over and tell Lyssah, ‘This is the part when the Cubs blow it. I’ve literally seen this before.’ Even she understands the magnitude of what’s going on.
Well, it’s at this point the baseball gods must have heard me because not long after they send a reverse-jinx rain delay to stall the Indian’s rally. Meanwhile, I’m closing my eyes once more, praying for mercy to merge with history in a way my grandparent’s generation never knew.
… ‘Cubs win! Cubswin! Cubs win! Holy Cow’…
Photo creds: 2016 Chicago Cubs Hype Video; gettyimages