Stoicism is defined as the quality or behavior of a person who accepts what happens without complaining or showing emotion.
By that definition I was the epitome of the word on the night of November 2, 2016. Sitting in my brother’s living room, a few miles north of Wrigley Field, witnessing the Chicago Cubs win their first World Series since the proliferation of mass transit and mass communication. I will not bore you of my story of growing up a fan or of generational suffering, because that has been written more times than necessary.
What I will tell you is that I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. But during the biggest sports moment of my life, hell, one of the biggest moments of my life, I just sat there void of emotion watching the Cubs celebrate — as Pat Hughes called them — “like a bunch of delirious 10-year-olds.”
It’s been a little over two months and I have spent way too much time wracking my brain, or laying down on Dr. Katz’s couch to figure out my emotions or lack thereof during such a historic moment. But I have a few theories.
I was blessed to see the Cubs win the National League pennant live and in person with my brother. I can’t stress this enough, it was, behind my wedding, the second-most amazing moment/event/evening of my life. It was perfect, like something out of a dream and at the risk of being cliché it was literally a once in a lifetime experience. Is it possible I blew my emotional wad two weeks before the grand prize was won?
It’s an understatement to say that Game 7 of the World Series was dramatic. Whether it be Dexter Fowler leading off with a home run. Or Cleveland coming all the way back to tie it, which led me to putting in my earbuds to listen to “Dark Side of the Moon” during those middle innings. Or capping the season off with the now legendary rain delay and speech by Jason Heyward who made all of his $184 million in that 17 minutes. (OK, maybe not, but it sure bought him a pass in Chicago for 2016.) Did such a stressful game zap all of the adrenaline out of my system before that final out?
I can say that since Day 1 of the Theo era, I took every word of the Epstein-Hoyer Plan as religious scripture. While some were screaming about trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, I salivated over Addison Russell. Pundits went crazy questioning the unknown prospects traded for Matt Garza, while I investigated the skinny Tim Lincecum-like pitcher: Carl Edwards, Jr. It ended up being Edwards who Joe Maddon strategically put in the high pressure situations during the season to test his will, and started the top of 10th in Game 7. Sure there were hiccups (*cough* Edwin Jackson), but because of the transparency of the Baseball Operations department it was easy to see what was on the horizon. I saw in a vacuum what could happen and for just long enough that vacuum stayed sealed, and dammit, it happened! Did I put so much faith in the plan that I took the fun out of baseball and looked at it like an investment finally paying off?
It has become clear that it was a mixture of all these factors and probably many more. But I think the biggest factor is a mentality established before even the first pitch in April: I told myself that whatever happens in October, it won’t be the only spin of the roulette wheel. In so many words, if you paid attention, the Cubs winning their first World Series in 108 years was a fait accompli. There, I said it. If you really paid attention and left 108 years of stupid at the door, it shouldn’t have surprised you — it should have confirmed your trust in a well-run organization.
I had this long running and depressing joke on Opening Day where I would tell my mother “Hope Springs Eternal.”
Soon enough I will simply say: “On to the Next One.”Next post: What Would the Steroid Era Have Been Like in the Polo Grounds?
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