Could you write a script for a sports movie to match the Cubs' season and have it approved? Even Disney would have a hard time saying yes. Not even if it were geared towards kids on Nickelodeon. The team has to be the favorite all year, then face a 3-1 series deficit. The team had to have it all come down to a game seven on the road. The team had to have it go extra innings. There had to be a rain delay. It had to have questionable coaching decisions that immediately get second guessed. It had to have redemption for a quick goat. It had to end in drunken revelry as the curse of the billy goat was finally vanquished. The lovable losers finally win.
I didn't think the Cubs would do it. My heart wanted them to win but my head said Kluber would pitch great for the Indians. I'm in Cubs territory. When the Red Sox broke their drought in 2004, I was in New England. Night and day for fans. Cubs fans and the Cubs were lovable losers. Sox fans and the Sox were soul twisted contenders with a lot of fucking assholes for fans that wore their misery like a badge*. Maybe it's just Midwest nice versus New England wretchedness. Totally different attitudes.
Does Theo Epstein go to the Hall of Fame now or do we have to wait? He built two different championship teams for franchises that had been decades without titles. He built teams that matched the parks, made great free agent signings and built the farm systems for both. His approach works, and since others can copy it but don't get it to work, it's his scouting and hunches that close the deal. It still takes players and coaches to execute the plan, and a little bit of luck.
Cubs fans can breathe a sigh of relief. No longer does someone have to read an obituary that says "lifelong Cubs fan" and think "Dammit, 89 years and no frickin' title". The dread that they'd never win creeps in as your dad or grandfather gets over 70, and still sits there in a Cubs hat watching a game, waiting. Think of the last week. Watching the team, the favorites, go down 3-1 with two straight losses at home. Wasn't this how it had to go to push Cubbies fans to the brink? How much do you believe, Cubs fans?
The game itself was great. A leadoff home run, which let everyone at home hear just how many Cubs fans were in attendance in Cleveland's stadium. It sounded like a Cubs home game. The lead to push the Indians' ace off the mound. The quick yank of the young pitcher Kyle Hendricks. Second guessed? Immediately, it cost the Cubs two runs. Twitter had people mocking the old catcher, Ross age 39, behind the plate. Who hits a home run the next inning? Ross. It had to go extra innings. To add to the tension, there was a delay. You can't write this in a movie script. It had to end in the middle of the night with only the diehards watching.
More than diehards watched. This was the most watched series in decades. "Dying sport". The ratings topped the super cool, super fly NBA and this was without ESPN pimping it nonstop since ESPN/ABC didn't carry the World Series. Baseball isn't dying. Baseball's recent history has shown the revenue sharing is helping smaller market teams be competitive. It's not as wide open as the NFL, but look at recent contenders and champs... Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City???? This isn't like basketball where one player can make you a contender, which is the NBA's inherent weakness for broad appeal. Stars can cluster on five NBA teams.
Baseball actually has something that points to a decent future that the NBA and even NFL don't have: Hispanic stars. Yes, a league that matches America's demographics (almost to a T) will pull in fans of all groups (soccer will finally have a future too). Let me know how the NFL is doing now that Colin "Soul Man" Kaepernick and others are pulling BLM shit? Tell me how the NBA markets to a growing Hispanic population without white guilting fans? Does "blacks r kewl" work on Hispanics like it does whites? No. ESPN has a vested interest in downplaying baseball, and its future. They are betting on basketball as football passes its peak.
Sports is a distraction. Sports are a safe way to channel tribal affiliation since whites aren't allowed identity politics or pride (for now). Sports now is pozzed and progged out with messaging. Sports also can be a little something that brings families and friends together. I don't know how many men texted or called, and this is call worthy, their dads last night in the Midwest, but I'm guessing millions repeated the same lines. Enjoy it Chicago.
*Note that the Sox fanbase became ungrateful bastards and even turned on players who carried their team through that playoff run. The fans later griped within a couple years of the title about the team not fulfilling potential and then bang, they won another title in 2007. Once again, people from Massachusetts truly earn the title "Massholes".