Friday, November 4, 2016

Cubbies bring The Baldest One back

Yeah, yeah ... it's been forever since I posted here. Hey, I've been busy as heck. Coaching basketball again (we begin defense of our conference title next week), umpiring several days a week, writing for actual money for Seeking Alpha, golfing again (still mediocre at best), losing sleep as Hillary loses her lead in the polls, etc., etc., etc.

All it took was the Cubbies to win the World Series to get me going again. So here are a baker's dozen observations about that every-108-years occurrence ...

1. The Cubs were the best team all season, and it really wasn't very close. They were built beautifully by Theo Epstein, from the front office and manager on down. Very balanced: pitching, hitting, fielding, the whole nine yards. Seemed to have a very good "team personality," too -- guys liked each other, picked each other up when necessary, etc. This should serve them well for many years.

2. Joe Maddon over-manages sometimes, did so quite often during the postseason and really had a pretty crappy Game 7. It reminded me of Tony La Russa's occasional inability to keep his hands off. But, like La Russa, I'll take Maddon every day of the week. It doesn't take a genius to do a double-switch. The most important part of managing is dealing with the egos, and Maddon is wonderful at that.

3. Those who love the Cubs but hate domestic abusers had the perfect scenario in Game 7. Aroldis Chapman sucked so badly he actually was reduced to tears, but the Cubs still won.

4. The Indians had a nice lineup but their bench ... pretty suspect. The best pinch-hitters Terry Francona could come up with were Yan Gomes and Michael Martinez, who, to be charitable, are really bad. Gomes had a particularly terrible at-bat when the Indians had Chapman on the ropes in the 8th inning.

5. As soon as Chapman retired the side 1-2-3 in the ninth, I knew the Cubs were going to win. They had the heart of their lineup coming up in the 10th, and the Indians' staff was gassed. Jason Hayward's speech and some divine force causing a rain delay ... it's fun to talk about stuff like that, but it came down to a tired, good-but-not-great pitcher going against some outstanding hitters.

6. Kyle Schwarber ... now THAT'S a great story. And how fr
eakin' good is Kris Bryant? Yikes! I'll already say that he could retire as the best Cub ever.

7. As I said, I'm no Cubs fan. I really didn't care if they had won or lost. But as with the Cavs, it's nice to see something that never happens, happen. Also, Ben still lives in Chicago and is a huge Cubbie fan, and it's nice to hear my son be so happy.

8. It was an interesting series, and a great Game 7, reminding me of some faves from over the years. The best series I ever saw in person was Twins-Braves '91. That produced several amazing games, including the best meaningful game I ever saw in person - Game 7, the "Jack Morris Game." (I make the "meaningful" distinction because we've all seen a lot of great regular-season games in every sport; it's the great moments that happen when the stakes are the highest that we really remember.)

9. My first major sportswriting assignment was the 1982 ALCS (Brewers-Angels) and World Series (Brewers-Cardinals), so those have special personal meaning for to me.

10. The most incredible half-hour of sports that I have ever witnessed personally came in the 2003 NLCS, Game 6, 8th inning. Never had seen anything like it and almost surely never will again.

11. Otherwise, I've seen so many great World Series games on TV that it's hard to rank them. Certainly, the Carlton Fisk game in '75 was memorable. Diamondbacks over Yankees in 2001. So, so, so many others. Old-timers will say the "Mazeroski game" in 1960 - when Bill Mazeroski's 9th-inning homer gave the Pirates a huge upset victory over the Yankees - was the greatest ever. That actually took place the day I was born, Oct. 13, 1960, and I have a cool baseball card commemorating that game with the date highlighted.

12. If you're truly a long-suffering Cubbie fan who stuck by the Lovable Losers through thin and thinner, I'm happy for you. If you're one of the zillions of Cubbie-come-latelies who glommed onto this team this season ... meh.

13. Two years ago, if you had asked me if the Cubs could win the 2016 World Series, I would have responded:

"Yeah, sure. And Donald Trump can win the effen White House."

That's all for this edition of The Baldest Truth, folks. See you again in 2124!

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