The pile of horse crap should have been a warning. Right there in the middle of the intersection of Clark and Addison stood a not-insignificant mound of equine doo-doo that people were only barely missing as they milled about in the pregame chaos. If that wasn’t enough, I would later narrowly avoid splooshing into two separate pools of vomit (but based on color and consistency, I think they were from the same person) in the concourse. Unfortunately for most of the 41,787 or so packed into Wrigley Field Saturday night, the Cubs could not avoid stepping in it.
Wrigleyville was a scene unlike any I’d ever encountered, what with the pregame revelry mixing with the early vestiges of Halloween celebrations to foment a cauldron of anxiety and elation. I walked a razor’s edge of emotion that wasn’t nearly as uncomplicated as Occam theorized, a child in a man’s body trying to navigate these familiar streets for what felt like the first time. Landmarks were festooned with revelers, vendors, and FOX broadcast booths, rendering them nearly unrecognizable. Tom Verducci and his glorious mane passed me as I walked down Waveland. What was this place?
It felt surreal, filing through the corridors necessitated by all the construction along with legions of blue-clad dreamwalkers at a measured pace that bordered on retrograde. My dream hadn’t involved various effluvium, which includes the Cubs wetting the bed, but I’d been having it for well over 30 years and now it was coming true. I’ll spare you the details of how I got a ticket in my hot little hand, but suffice to say luck and timing were heavily involved.
We entered the park about two hours before first pitch and headed straight to the seats to survey the scene. I was a sponge, soaking in the atmosphere before squeezing it out in order that I might sop it back up (along with the scattered detritus that came with it). Like the standing-room areas, the energy ramped up, eventually resulting in derisive chants of “KLOOOOO-BER” as the Indians starter pitched in the bottom of the 1st. And then came a hit. And another. And a run, heretofore an indicator of the eventual winner. But just as surely as they had escalated, both the volume and the verve went the way of Pedro Strop’s hat and L’il Jon.
It was as though someone just kept turning the knob down to the left as the game wore on. Well, except for the suite located immediately above me, which I can only assume had been stocked with rocking chairs. Much to the chagrin of everyone in the vicinity, someone would open a sack full of long-tailed cats each time the Indians did something good. Or so I gathered from the inhuman shrieking that issued forth from the suite with far too much frequency. That shrill earworm is still burrowing into the infertile loam of my gray matter even now.
With each passing inning, it felt less and less like the home team was going to make things happen. I don’t buy into curses, but it’s hard to dismiss the Jobu voodoo as the Cubs hitters did their best Pedro Cerrano impersonations. They waved awkwardly at almost everything with spin, corkscrewing into the batters box and coming back with little more than an awful vintage of whine. Outside of Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist, the rest of the lineup was lost. Even Jason Heyward’s hits felt like nominal nuggets of mercy from the BABIP gods. Automatic outs, man, they’ll bite you.
It’s probably a good thing I was generally cut off from Twitter, given the referendum on how to fan that was apparently taking place online without me. You wanna give up and throw this season in the trash? Cool. Wanna rest on the glory of a World Series appearance and the potential for even more to come. More power to you. But enough with the “True Cubs fans would never…” rhetoric. Fan how you want/need to fan, dude, and leave it at that.
Maybe some of the people paying those exorbitant prices had done so with the knowledge that this might be their one shot to see the Cubs play in the World Series. Maybe they broke open piggy banks that had been growing fat on the shelf for decades. And maybe they were just rich delta-bravos just there for the party. I can say, however, that I didn’t see many of the latter near me. Well, except for that Duncan Keith guy. What a hoser, eh?
The Cubs might be dead in the water, just playing out the string until they’re finally pulled under for good. Or maybe they’re ready to put together three one-game winning streaks in order to bear out the promise of 103 wins and more talent than most of us have ever seen on the North Side.
All I know is that I lived a dream Saturday night as I experienced something I wasn’t sure I ever would. I woke up drenched in sweat and a little worse for wear, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The crowds and the poop and the puke and Cowboy Joe West (sorry if that’s redundant), it was all part of the imperfect perfection we walk around in every day.
And it’ll all be more than worth it when the Cubs win in seven.