A heartfelt congrats from someone who gets it.
I remember our car inching toward a tollbooth somewhere in northern Massachusetts, radio on, Joe Castiglione calling the game from Anaheim, where the Red Sox were making quick work of the Angels in the 2004 ALDS. I remember Manny Ramirez putting Boston up 8–0 with a three-run shot and Castiglione going wild, the cars around us all honking their horns as we realized our team had a chance.
I remember the crushing sadness I felt watching the Sox drop the first three games of the ALCS, and the elation I felt as they took the next four from a disheveled Yankees ballclub.
I remember how easily the Cardinals surrendered, as if the Curse of the Bambino had already been broken by Boston’s dramatic victory over New York. (After all, winning the pennant against our oldest rivals?—?and the ones responsible for the Curse in the first place?—?was the only way that a championship would taste just right.)
Now, Chicago, it’s your turn. You’ll remember Fowler’s leadoff homer in the first inning of Game 7. How it seemed portentous, like an omen of certain victory.
You’ll remember the uneasiness you felt at Javier Baez’s error in the bottom of that inning (and the dismay you certainly felt in the fourth when he screwed up trying to barehand a flip from Addison Russell that would result in an inning-ending double play). You’ll remember thinking Oh, shit. Not again. Not this year.
You’ll remember the confidence you felt going into the eighth with a 6–3 lead. You’ll remember wishing that Joe Maddon would yank Chapman when he gives up that lead, letting Rajai Davis tie it up with a two-run blast.
You’ll remember the cosmic unfairness of a 17-minute rain delay in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series, which might be?—?could be?—?Chicago’s first title since 1908. During those 17 grueling minutes, you wondered whether the Cubs would choke yet again.
You’ll remember the tentative, hopeful glee you felt watching Zobrist double to bring home the pinch runner Albert Almora, and the satisfaction of an insurance run (which you ended up needing) when Montero singled in Rizzo.
You’ll remember when Rajai Davis, bane of Chicago, produces yet again for the tribe with an RBI single in the bottom of the tenth. And then you’ll remember it’s suddenly over, no bang, just a whimpering ground ball to third base.
We’re happy for you. We know what it’s like, the emotional dissonance that comes from loving a team who lets you down year after year. And we know the childlike joy when they finally deliver. (Though neither the Sox nor the Cubs were content to win without throwing a little scare into us first.) So from Boston to Chicago, a heartfelt congratulations. It’s been a long time coming.