I was tired last night. It was a long day; I had been up at 5 a.m. and flew to Nashville to visit a customer for work, all the while stressing about getting on an earlier flight so I could land at O’Hare in time to watch game 7. Well, I did get on an earlier flight, killing my work phone (my one phone that I could stream the Cubs on) in the process. Dead work phone, but functional (albeit much less useful, and half dead) personal phone in hand, I boarded the plane expecting to arrive in Chicago at 5:30 p.m. and meet my best friend and my girlfriend to watch Game 7.
That did not happen. Instead, I would spend 3-plus hours sitting in Fort Wayne due to a ground stoppage at O’Hare. The November heat wave that was propelling the Cubs bats having screwed me with heavy thunderstorms in the Chicago metro area, reduced me (and 9 or 10 others) to burning out phone after phone in desperate attempts to track the game via streams. No one with enough battery to last more than 45 minutes. And no chance at a TV. Finally, at 9 p.m. we were headed back to Chicago.
We landed in Chicago with the Cubs up 6-3. Bottom of the 7th. I literally ran, with four or so of my new friends and the voice of my best friend breaking up from the lack of cell service while he gave me play-by-play, through O’Hare, shedding the weird looks and shouts to slow down, desperate to get to my car and Cubs radioman Pat Hughes. I exited parking and hit 294 just in time for Lester to get the first two outs and put a runner on. And the first cuss word of the day was Chapman entering the game.
Three more would swiftly follow. Those three runs later and I was a mess, still driving, heading to my girlfriend’s parent’s house with a vague idea that I might make the end of the game. But not at all confident in Chapman or Joe Maddon to extend it.
I drove, swearing again when Baez tried for a bunt on a 3-2 count, and knowing, though Pat never said it, that Maddon had made another mistake, calling for it in an awful spot. My nerves were tattered. Exhausted, frustrated after hours of delays, cancelled plans, and the desperation of trying to keep up with the game (we illegally streamed it during the flight, bite us FAA).
Chapman got through the 9th. I was terrified he would pitch the 10th. I was still 10 minutes away as they put the tarp on the field. My first thought: ‘Chapman won’t pitch,’ betrayed my unease. I checked the radar on my refreshed phone. This was a short blip, they’d restart soon. I got to the house and went inside still worried, but finally among friends.
You know how it went from there. The walking miracle that is Kyle Schwarber. The intelligence and poise of Albert Almora Jr. getting to second on Kris Bryant’s near-heroics. BenZo punishing the IBB of Rizzo.Montero doing the same after the IBB of Russell.
On to the bottom, so stressful as Edwards came in hot but without his command. And now I was back on alert, surely they couldn’t give it up again. The call to the pen for Montgomery with two outs and a run in. Finally, sense from Joe Maddon. I responded to my best friend’s concerned text with the most confidence I had ever felt: a�?Montgomery has got this.a�? It wasn’t quite that simple, but as the underrated defender that will most definitely win the MVP charged forward, flashing a flawless smile at his luck, and threw to Rizzo, as I drowned out Joe Buck to listen to Pat Hughes’ slightly delayed radio call of the play I had just watched from the stream on my phone, I was happy. The Cubs were champions. Watch the trophy presentation. Sleep.
I couldn’t process it. The day had been too long, too stressful, too much. Fast forward through five hours of sleep and a drive to my apartment, a drive with sports radio, and a drive during which I did not for a moment stop crying. I still haven’t, typing this on my phone.
Sports are so much more than entertainment, and I’m running out of words and inevitably late for work. But the Cubs, the Cubs are World Series Champions. We ain’t afraid of no goats, Grandpa Rossy did get them off his lawn, this WAS the year, and I do believe. 108 years is over, and even if I’ve only lived through 28 of them, I dare you to tell me I can’t feel this.
So long, friends, and #FlyTheW
*This post, slightly edited, taken from the Facebook timeline of Andrew Bauer, circa 7am CDT, 11/3/2016 After Cubs, day one.