Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wait, Who Won? Seriously?

So the Cubs have won the World Series.

Think about that.

I’m not really a Cubs fan, even if I do live in a house full of them.  Whatever attention I care to devote to major league baseball these days goes to the Phillies, my hometown team.  But the Phillies haven’t been relevant since 2011 and were eliminated from contention for this year’s playoffs sometime in August 2015, and I refuse to cheer for the American League on principle, so you make do with what’s in front of you, I say.  Also, Bill Murray is a national treasure and he is a Cubs fan, so there’s that.  Go Cubs.  Why not.

This was a Series guaranteed to produce a strange outcome regardless of who won.  The Indians hadn’t won since 1948, despite going to the Series a couple of times in recent memory.  The Cubs hadn’t appeared in a World Series game since 1945 and hadn’t won since 1908.  A partial list of things that weren’t around the last time the Cubs won the World Series would include pre-sliced bread, World War I, paved interstate highways, the NFL, and the Soviet Union.  There were 46 states, and Teddy Roosevelt was still president then.  It’s been a while.

Statistically, one of those teams would have to win this year.  That’s how the game is played.

Kim is a Cubs fan.  It runs in the family.  Her brother Dave is actually in the Cubs Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, and the Smithsonian Institute for being such a diehard Cubs fan – he was at almost all of the playoff games this year, even the ones in Los Angeles.  Lauren will watch and cheer for the teams we like because she is polite that way, and even Tabitha got into it by the end.  It was nice to share the experience with them – going over the rules of the game (because baseball has some weird ones), answering questions, and enjoying the games together.  Bedtime was suspended for the duration.

We watched most of the Series, and I got to see the final out even if an extra-inning Game 7 rain delay made me question whether the baseball gods really wanted either of these teams to win it.  The fact that two franchises with such a long and rich history of heartbreak and failure were playing for a championship that one of them was guaranteed to win was clearly a violation of natural law and something fundamental in the universe would break if that happened.  This was the universe trying to save itself.  But they were good games, really.  Well played, generally tense and interesting, and entertaining even when the other guys won.

The Cubs have won the World Series.

Think about that.

Whatever they’re paying Theo Epstein it isn’t enough.  This is the guy who turned the Boston Red Sox around and built them to win their first World Series in 86 years, and then jumped ship to the Chicago Cubs and did the same thing for a franchise that hadn’t won in 108 years.  I hope he has business cards printed up that list his title as “Reanimator.”

It’s been a good century for the Losers, actually.  The Red Sox have won it three times since 2004.   The White Sox won in 2005, snapping a drought that was longer than Boston’s. The Phillies won in 2008 for just the second time in their 133-year history.  And now the Cubs.  Surely the Indians will win it all next year.  They must.

Baseball has long since fallen down the list of sports I watch and care about, but it can be a great game and it is nice to be reminded of that now and then.  It has a history unmatched in American sports, and as I get older I appreciate a game where so much of what matters is what isn't happening at any given moment.  One of the many things I don’t like about basketball is that it is essentially Short Attention Span Theater – bounce, bounce, score; bounce, bounce, score; bounce, bounce, score.  You have to watch a baseball game carefully and plan a few moves ahead in your mind.  I can see why Americans don’t like it as much as they used to.  But perhaps we should.

The Cubs – the Cubs, of all people – have won the World Series.

Think about that.

I wonder what John Scalzi is going to do now.  He writes SF/F books that are generally light, enjoyable reads.  His most popular series – the Old Man’s War series – is a thoughtful and not terribly jingoistic military space opera set several hundred years from now, and one of the running jokes in it as that the Cubs have still not won the Series.  And now they have.

There may well be something fundamentally broken about the universe now.  It's possible.  I look forward to earthquakes, plagues of locusts, and the return of Elvis to judge American Idol.  Weirder things have happened.  I saw one live last night.

The Cubs have won the World Series.

That’s a lot to think about.


LucyInDisguise said...

Ask and you shall ... Whatever.


David said...

I saw that!

I can't imagine I was the only person who pointed out the consequences of a Cubs win for the OMW series, or that Scalzi himself needed anyone to do so.

But it's pretty cool that he chose to address it like that. :)