Cubs win the World Series!

I wanted to do a long and heartfelt piece about what the Cubs finally getting to, and winning, the World Series meant to me.  But I just don’t have it in me right now.

So instead I’m just going to ramble a bit.

I became a Cubs fan as a young kid.  The first season I remember vividly is 1969.  Ron Santo clicking his heels as they left the field, jogging down the left field line to the clubhouse gate in the corner.   Billy Williams taking practice swings at his own spit.  Ernie Banks and his cocked elbow.  The smooth double play combo of Kessinger and Beckert.  And of course the Rebel, Randy Hundley behind the plate.  I remember the winning, but for whatever reason, I don’t recall the downturn that became known in the future as the “September Swoon.”  Maybe because we were back in school, and the games were all day games at Wrigley in 1969.

I’ve suffered through a lot of really bad teams.  Oh, they always had a player or two that gave fans hope, but in hindsight…they were bad.  Then the Tribune bought them, brought Dallas Green aboard, and he built a GOOD team:  he brought in young players like Leon Durham, Ryne Sandberg, and Greg Maddux, and vets like Rick Sutcliffe, Dennis Eckersley, and others.  1984 brought us to the brink…needing one win to go to the series.  Alas, it was not to be.  They lost the final games of that league championship series to the Padres and were back down.  Injuries took their toll on the team, and we next went to the playoffs in 1989, with Don Zimmer at the helm and Maddux and Sandberg the pillars of a good team.  But we came up against a buzzsaw in Will Clark and the Giants, and I believe we were swept out of the playoffs.

In the late 90’s we got there again on Sammy Sosa’s back.  But we had nothing in the playoffs, and we didn’t get anywhere.  Finally, 2003 popped up, and we had a great team built around the dynamic young arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.  We took out the Braves to go to the LCS, and were 5 outs away from the World Series when Moises Alou threw a hissy-fit over what he perceived as fan interference, because a fan may have touched a foul ball.  Ten people were reaching for it, but the unlucky fan who touched it became a pariah and had to deal with death threats from moronic fans who blamed him instead of the pitcher who served up some meatballs and the shortstop who blew a routine ground out.  I threw up my hands.  Could I subject my kids to this kind of torture?

I watched after that, but not with nearly the intensity that I did before that.  I watched those teams from 2007/2008 go to the playoffs, carried partly on the back of Alfonso Soriano, but stop hitting and go nowhere.  Then the ownership change.  A FAN (!!!) was buying the team!  Tom Ricketts took over, putting Theo Epstein, who had worked a miracle in Boston, in charge of baseball operations.  Theo brought in his guys and went to work making the Cubs the worst team in baseball.  They tore it down.

Then they built it back up from the ground floor.  Astute drafting and trades brought new good young players like Anthony Rizzo (trade), Kris Bryant (draft), Javier Baez (drafted by previous regime), Kyle Schwarber (draft), Addison Russell (trade), Jake Arrietta (trade), Kyle Hendricks (trade), and Dexter Fowler (trade).  Then came the free agents:  Jon Lester, Jason Hayward, Jason Hammel, John Lackey, Dexter Fowler (their own free agent), and Ben Zobrist, the MVP of the World Series.

In 2015, they were surprisingly good.  Great, at times!  Lost to the Mets, whose pitching mowed them down, in the LCS.  2016, they set records.  They were determined to get to the end.  They kept winning.  And finally, they did it!

Cleveland played really well.  But in the end, the Cubs were the better team, and after 108 years, they have brought the World Championship back to the north side of Chicago.  No goats, no black cats, just great play and teamwork and a focus that was enviable.

I didn’t get to watch as much as I wanted to.  But I feel like I was a part of this, as much as the people who watched every single inning.  Because they’ve been a part of me since I was a little kid pretending to be Ron Santo, and finally, they haven’t broken my heart!  They no longer play the blues in Chicago when baseball season rolls around.  Wrigley is no longer an “ivy covered burial ground.”  And no one will ever call them the “doormat of the National League” again!

We’ll always have Paris?  No, Cubs fans, we’ll always have 2016!

*****

PS  Not bad for off-the-cuff, huh?

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4 thoughts on “Cubs win the World Series!

  1. MP McDonald

    Fellow Cubs fan here. My story is similar. One of my earliest memories was standing in line at the Handy Andy in Gurnee and getting Billy Williams autograph. I have no idea where that autograph went. A few years later we moved to Arkansas and ended up in Don Kessinger’s hometown. I’ll always remember the big billboard as you drove into town off the interstate. 🙂 We moved back two years later and my Cubs obsession really kicked into high gear in 1977 when it was Buckner, Kingman, Cey, etc.

    When my oldest was four, my husband took him to a game. It was 1990 and close to our son’s birthday. My husband told someone there and next thing you know, they had him and our son sit in a certain spot (making the ticket holders move for a few minutes!) and got them on camera. Steve Stone called my son “One of the great faces of baseball!” lol

    Anyway, this past summer has been so much fun and we’ll always remember it.

    Reply
    1. Scott Dyson Post author

      That’s a great story! That they would do that is pretty cool!

      Sorry it took me so long to moderate the comment. I’ve been…distracted. Haven’t thought of much to post here lately, so I’ve been sort of avoiding the blog.

      (Hey, maybe there’s a post in that avoidance strategy…)

      Reply
  2. Steven M. Moore

    Scott,
    Excellent for off-the-cuff! Theo Epstein promised one of those fellows he would get him in trade, and he did (forget which one it is). Jon Lester came from the Red Sox too, I believe. The “curse of the bambino” lasted a long time for the Red Sox–probably more significant than that billy goat, because Ruth’s best years were at the Yankees.
    I watched most of the last game–definitely a classic. I was rooting for the Cubbies–it’s been a long time since a team came back from a 3 to 1, so it was a bit miraculous. I always enjoyed playing baseball (catcher) more than watching it, but at this level, with all the strategies honed to a fine edge, it becomes fascinating viewing.
    r/Steve

    Reply
    1. Scott Dyson Post author

      Agree, it’s definitely different watching a World Series game of this intensity than watching regular season baseball.

      Lester was a Red Sox product, he was traded to Oakland when the A’s were making a pennant push a couple years ago, then the Cubs zeroed in on him in his free agent year.

      Rizzo was drafted by the Red Sox, then dealt to the Padres after Theo and Jed left Boston and Jed landed in San Diego. When Theo came to Chicago, the first thing he did was hire Jed Hoyer. One of the first things that Hoyer did was trade Andrew Cashner (a promising pitcher who is still in the league) for Rizzo again. They thought he was going to be great, and it turned out they were right!

      Across town, the White Sox are going to try a Cubs-style rebuild, or so it appears, and they started by trading Chris Sale to the Red Sox for their top prospects. But I don’t know if they have the talent evaluation skill that Epstein and Hoyer and McLeod have… We’ll see…

      Reply

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