After 108 years the longest drought in baseball history has come to a close with the Cubs FINALLY winning the World Series. Sigh…..!
For years I’ve heard people remark that they’d never live long enough to see the Chicago Cubs finally win a World Series. Silly people. They should know by now…never say never in baseball. Everybody MUST win by today’s thinking. There’s always a way!
And these are not the Cubs of old, nor is is the same game of baseball as it once was. Baseball has changed dramatically since the days of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Ferguson Jenkins, none of which ever dreamed of filing for free agency and leaving. And general managers of their day never dreamed of going out to sign a Sandy Koufax, either, that one quality pitcher that would ensure a pennant and world championship.
Someplace now, Ernie Banks is smiling, I hope. He was one of the nicest people I ever met. He never got to be a part of it, but I’m sure he knows, if God himself doesn’t go to him this morning and say, “Cubs win, Cubs win.”
But there is something sad about seeing the Cubs finally break the curse of the goat and that Bartman kid (Steve) who stuck his hand out in front of Moises Alou a few years ago, trying to catch a foul ball. No longer will there be a story of baseball frustration in Chicago. The term “hope springs eternal doesn’t apply in Chicago anymore. Both teams have won titles (White Sox in 2005). History is indeed altered. There are no more lovable losers. The world must adjust.
Mind you, I rarely ever root for one particular team in any sport, and I can say the same for the Cubs on Wednesday. As a by-product of today’s game, they don’t really seem like the Cubs, despite all the home-grown talent, but just another collection of free agents.
John Lester…Dexter Fowler…Jason Heyward…Ben Zobrist…John Lackey. These are not Cubs; but someone else’s investment in risk and player development willing to take the Cubs’ money. Doesn’t seem right, and never has since the days of Andy Messersmith, but that’s baseball. Everyone’s doing it, and eventually, everyone wins now…even the Red Sox.
This is modern major league baseball, like everything else in culture. Everyone MUST get a trophy, regardless of history or tradition. No more St. Louis Browns, Kansas City Athletics, or Montreal Expos. If you run aground, if you can’t win, move. And if moving ain’t enough, sign more, different, free agents.
And for that reason alone I was sure it would happen for the Cubs eventually, even in my life. They ARE good, with great young talent they’ve developed and shrewd management in the front office and on the field. Joe Madden beats both Hillary and Trump if he runs for president in the next five days.
They’re not perfect, though.
They’re the Cubs of the millenials. I hate those garish blue uniform tops they wore in Game 7. Always have. I don’t like anyone wearing shirts that aren’t home “white” and road “gray”. Just something alternative to sell. Modern baseball.
I never liked it when the Cubs put lights in Wrigley Field, or changed the scoreboard and added seats. I liked Wrigley just the way it was. The ONLY team not to play night baseball. They were different from everyone else. Not anymore.
And I’m sure there’s more changes to come. The Players Association will find some reason to rip out the ivy. Allergies, and someone will get a rash. Wait and see.
Dexter Fowler is already rumored to be available to the highest bidder this off-season. He’s a free agent. Cubs fans, don’t bother memorizing the starting lineup of the 2016 World Champion Cubs. You’ll be shocked at the turnover within a year. That’s baseball.
As an aside, I admit I had a lump in my throat as I watched Wednesday and saw John Hirschbeck, and old umpiring friend and partner from the Florida State League in 1976, work his last major league game. Good guy, and good memories of Tampa, St. Pete, and West Palm Beach, the game I once knew. As I remember now, I think he had 24 ejections his first year umpiring. That’s a lot. It seems so long ago.
I’m thinking about Billy Williams, too, a contemporary of Ernie, and Ron, and Ferguson Jenkins…and even Leo Durocher, who managed the Cubs during their famous pennant collapse of 1969. And I wonder if any of them ever said, “I’ll never live long enough to see the Cubs win.”
Harry Caray didn’t. Holy Cow! And Ernie, Ronnie, and Leo didn’t. Fergie and Billy Williams did. Doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life. Nothing’s fair, not even baseball. You can’t say “never” anymore. Somehow, it’ll find a way to prove you wrong.
Just like the 2016 Cubs.