When the Cubs clinched the Central, I made a little bet with one of my friends. I lost. After the fold is the piece I wrote after losing the bet. Normally, I am just a lurker and occasional commenter here. But I put a little work into this and thought I would share with other Cubs fans and get your reaction.
They called him the Georgia Peach. The young left handed batter was in his second World Series game in as many years. He played poorly the year before in the post season but was batting .368 this year and knocked in a team leading 4 RBI's. But at times like this stats mean little to a player. This inning, the bottom of the eighth, could well be the last game he will play in the 1908 season.
It's a depression. Not one that would make you throw the hair dryer in the bathtub but more of a Peanuts kind of depression. The kind that makes you sigh at the unfairness of life. Knowing that the baseball game cannot be won, the football won't be kicked, and that god damned Great Pumpkin will never, NEVER show up. "Wait 'till next year" a cruel joke that tears at the soul of Chicago's north side. Goats, black cats, and most of all, poor play has lead to a century of failure. A century since the fateful night in Detroit's Bennett field when the Cubs became World Champions for the final time.
The thought of losing to the same team in back to back years seemed unfathomable to Cobb. They should not have even been in the Series this year. On September 23 Fred Merkle of the New York Giants was too busy celebrating a seeming game winning run on first base to realize he was the force out at second. Cub Johnny Evers retrieved the ball and tagged second for the third out of the inning nullifying the run and sending the game into extra innings. Or would have if the New York fans were not already on the field. The game was declared a tie, the teams wound up tying the season and the Cubs had won the one game playoff. Now, it looked liked they were going to repeat as Champions.
Every spring, Addison and Clark buzzes with blue. Caps, jerseys of players past and present, foam claws, and various Cub paraphernalia buzz around the park in eagerness and excitement. Old men with scorecards. Suspenders hoisting too large pants. Young girls with beers. Suggestive slogans like "We got Wood" or "I like Pie" sprawled across their too tight shirts. Proud fathers with their wide eyed sons looking around in awe at the scene. The athletic, fat, drunk, sober, young, old, all gather in the excitement for another year of Cubs baseball. Knowing the chances are slim even if the odds aren't. Knowing it will probably end with the heartache of the previous 100 seasons. Junkies each and everyone. Coming back for their Cubs fix.
Cobb knew that a 2 run lead was not unsurmountable. But there were only four outs left in the game and Orval Overall was pitching a good game. He needed to concentrate. A hit here might fire up their lifeless bats. The first pitched whizzes by inside backing Cobb off the plate. Cobb glares at the catcher Johnny Kling and steps back into the box. Second pitch flies in down the middle of the plate. Knowing he should have swung at that pitch Cobb steps out of the box to regroup. Concentrate. Cobb steps in for the third pitch of the at bat. The ball starts down the middle. Cobb lifts his front foot. The ball moves in on Cobb. The swing is fluid but the contact is low on the bat. The grounder rolls to the short stop who throws it to first to end the inning. Cobbs stares into the stands. There are very few people out tonight.
It has been this way for years. Passed down generation to generation in hopes that maybe the younger fans will be able to experience what we never did. Baseball Joy. A joy no other team in any sports will ever be able to appreciate. A joy slow cooked in 100 years of failure. A joy that has almost been achieved a few times before but it just needed a little more time. Just a little more time.
Cobb sat in the dugout for a few moments after the game. He watched the Cubs celebrating around the mound. Two straight years the Tigers had lost to the Cubs. He stood up, grabbed his mitt, his bat, and his cap. He placed the cap on his head sloppily. "Well, there is always next year," Cobb thought as he walked off the field, "There is always next year."