I can’t help it … I’m a fan of both the San Francisco Giants and the team I grew up with, the Chicago Cubs. And, I have to say, on Thursday morning, I’m pretty excited, because the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games in the World Series. If you didn’t watch the series and aren’t a baseball fan, then I’m sorry for you, because the game played on Wednesday, Nov. 2 was spectacular.
And, if the Indians had won the series, which they threatened to do when they were up 3 games to 1 after four games, then I would have been satisfied, because the series went seven games and both teams were so evenly matched. And, it was a fantastic series.
I’m so happy the Cubs won…even though it had been since 1908 when they last won. Think about that: 1908, the first Ford Model Ts were being built in Henry Ford’s factory in Detroit. The American Civil War had ended 40-some years ago, or roughly the same amount of time now since the end of the Vietnam War. (Thanks to KQED for those factoids.)
My Dad was a Cubs fan, and a fan of the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks. During his lifetime (1924-2014), there were many titles for those other teams, but none for the Cubs. I’m not sure where Dad was in October 1945 when the Cubs were last in the World Series (and lost to the Detroit Tigers in seven games). Although he grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, he served in the U.S. Navy and might not have been home. I never asked him about that World Series and now, sadly, I don’t have that chance.
Growing up, we went to more than a few Bears games at Soldier Field, along with a few Blackhawk games, including a memorable Game 6 when the Blackhawks lost the title to the Montreal Canadiens in 1973. We had standing-room-only seats high up in the rafters and were never able to sit down during the entire game. We never went to a Bulls game, because honestly they weren’t very good while I was growing up and by the time they were in the mid-1990s with Michael Jordan, neither my parents nor I were living in the Chicago area. I had moved to Lake County and my parents split their time between Florida (winter) and Wisconsin (summer).
My father’s parents, William and Esther Stoneberg, were also Cubs fans. I remember watching Cubs games with “Gram” on a small black and white TV with announcer Jack Brickhouse. Since both my grandparents were born in the late 1890s, they were both alive the last time the Cubs won the World Series in 1908. They wouldn’t have heard the game on the radio, since broadcasts of the games didn’t happen for another two decades, but they might have read about it in a Chicago daily newspaper the following day.
Throughout the series and especially last Wednesday night, I was texting two friends as the game went on. Both are baseball fans and both prefer the National League, rather than the American League, as do I. I was also sending emails back and forth to another friend, who is a baseball fanatic and gets to many Giants games each year.
I can’t help but share the texts that were exchanged with one of my friends, whose pen name is Tom Sawyer. I think they capture the spirit of the series.
For the fifth game, the last one at Wrigley Field and the first of three that the Cubs had to win, he and I began our conversation, Sunday night at 5:38.
“Don’t watch,” he said. And a little later: “I got some peanuts. Now we will win.”
My reply: “Ah, perfect. Pitching is good, both sides. (Jon Lester for the Cubs, Trevor Bauer for the Indians.) Cubs got to find some hits.” Then a little later: “Homer! Glad you got peanuts.” Then, “Double! Go Cubbies.”
Tom’s response: “Peanuts!”
Then, from me, “Great pitch by Lester!”
From Tom: “Great call by ump.”
“Yep. Give the guy a raise…in peanuts.”
The Cubs won the game 3-2.
My last text: “Cubs to Cleveland. Game 6!”
Then, at the end of Tuesday’s game, which the Cubs won 9-3, I sent Tom a text: “My Cubbies, Game 7! Wow.” He replied: “Only because I had peanuts at lunch then again before dinner.”
That set the stage for Wednesday’s final game, with starting pitchers Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs and the Indians Corey Kluber, who had shut down the Cubs’ offense in both games 1 and 4.
Leadoff man for the Cubs, Dexter Fowler hit a homer in the first.
After the game was tied at 1-all, the Cubs scored two runs in the fourth inning. From Tom: “Just finished a hand full of peanuts and we got 2 more runs.”
Me: “Perfect. I’m eating a handful of almonds. Go Cubs!”
After a Javier Baez solo homer in the fifth, the Cubs went up 4-1. I texted: “Kluber being rocked hard.”
Tom: “I was eating a French bread roll. Maybe as long as I eat something, I will do the Cubs good. Go Cubbies!”
Me: “5-1, Eat some more!”
The unexpected response: “Can I marry U?” Obviously, Tom loves his food, but I texted: “Silly boy.”
A wild pitch from Cubs pitcher Jon Lester allowed two runs to score. From Tom: “I wasn’t eating while the Indians were batting.”
In the top of the sixth inning, catcher David Ross hit a solo homer in his last game as a major leaguer to make the score 6-4.
My text: “I was hoping they would keep Hendricks in the game … look what happened.” Then a minute later: “Youch!”
Tom’s measured response: “Keep positive.”
As a life-long Cubs fan, there was only one response: “Who me worry? That’s what Cubs fans do best!” And a little later: “Darn it! Indians only 2 down.” Then Cubs manager Joe Maddon replaced Lester with closer Aroldis Chapman and the Indians dramatically tied the game in the eighth inning at 6-6.
My heartbreak: “Tie game!”
Finally, Tom came to the rescue, “I just ate more peanuts!” But my response was woeful: “Too late I’m afraid.”
A second later: “Positive.”
Then there was the 17-minute rain delay. I texted Tom: “Crazy game, and rain delay.”
From Tom: “Not to worry. It will just take the Cubs a little longer to win.”
Then, I couldn’t take it anymore, not knowing if the rain delay would be minutes or hours: “I’m recording the rest of this and going to bed. Goodnight.”
He berated me: “Oh no. U must stay up!” I didn’t.
Joni and I watched the last of the game early Thursday before work. The Cubs scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning and although the Indians came back with one run in the bottom of the 10th, Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery got the final out.
At 7:11 a.m., I texted Tom: “The Cubbies won!” And then, “I had no doubts, except for every inning, every pitching change.”
From Tom, “I wanted to text you last night. Great game. Congratulations. Next year Giants!”
A perfect finish to a perfect season.