(Please forgive this morning writing foolishness if it is not your cup of tea, or your cup of Old Style. Go Cubs).
From the World Book of History of the early 21st Century.
Looking back, it was the day that changed the world as we knew it.
It was July 1, 2009. It was Canada Day, but the happy-go-lucky celebrations sweeping across the Great White North held no sway in hardscrabble Pittsburgh, where the Chicago Cubs were playing the hometown Pirates. The favored Cubs were scrambling like a badger thrown in a pool, just trying to keep their heads above water. The Pirates had long since given up that challenge, choosing instead to sink, rock-like, towards the bottom of the standings.
There were many reasons for the Cubs troubles - age, attitude, ineptitude, a lack of appreciation for the misunderstood genius and talent of Aaron Miles - but many among the hard-core fans thought that there was just one thing that was needed to solve the problem. Manager Lou Piniella needed to have a tantrum.
The hue and cry had been tremendous. Lou isn't showing enough fire. Lou needs to get thrown out of a game. It had worked in 2007: he screamed like a child who had been told that he wasn't getting a candy and like magic, the Cubs found their feet, rocketing to the top of the division before being unceremoniously dumped back into reality by a bunch of snowbirds in Arizona in the playoffs. There were some who argued that a tantrum and ejection would do nothing to change the Cubs fortunes, but the "real" fans knew that a tantrum was just what would be needed. It would make a difference. It would solve everything.
They didn't know how right they were.
And by now, you know the history. The Cubs tenuously holding on to a lead in the later innings. Runners in scoring position. A rookie pitcher named Randy Wells at the plate, who had been turned from a catcher into a pitcher because of an inability to make bat contact ball. The ball slapped back to the mound. The Pirates' pitcher, a man whose name is lost to time and legend, fumbles the ball and throws late to first. Wells was safe, but the umpire, known historically by the nickname "Voldemort," ruled him out. No run scored. Once again, the Cubs denied.
There was a buzzing across the stadium, a rumble, like that split second before an earthquake or an explosion, where the subconscious minds of all those in attendance freeze for a moment in fear and anticipation of what they know is to come, what they know they cannot stop. Lou Piniella strode from the dugout like an angry panda bear. Each step moved him, and the world, closer to fate.
The argument, the famous hat throw, have been so ingrained into polite society through repeated viewings that there is no need to rehash the particulars here.
And when it was over, the fans in Pittsburgh, the television audience across the world, knew that they had seen a transformitive moment in history.
And of course, the tantrum was just what the Cubs needed. The slumbering bats came alive, the pitchers regained their collective confidence and the Cubs did begin to win, and would go on to win the World Series that year. But that accomplishment was dwarfed by the magnitude of other events caused, both directly and indirectly, by the actions of the day. To document them all would take 100 pages, but here are the most significant.
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