The father and the son, connected by 27 years of Cub suffering, would watch Game 7 of the World Series hundreds of miles apart. While they watched the same game, they saw it thru eyes separated by a generation.
At my age, you stop saying wait until next year, because you're not sure how many next years you have left. This was the best Cubs team of my lifetime, probably the best I will ever see. If this was ever going to happen, and I had come to grips with the fact that it might not, it needed to happen tonight. I had witnessed the '85 Bears, the Michael 6-pack, and the Blackhawks triple. But I know the lay of the land as well as anyone. A Cub victory tonight would go down in history as the biggest win, anywhere, ever.
That's the honor you've earned after 108 years.
The world was standing. The Chicago Cubs were four outs away from winning the World Series with the fastest thrower on the planet on the mound. We had never been four outs away from anything before. 5 outs in 2003. Could this really be happening? Most of my father's heartbreak was before my time.
But this was our year, it had to be.
We lead all the way. And then the world saw Cleveland launch a ball fly over the wall, and suddenly, it was gone in a heartbeat.
I could not move. I could not speak. I could only feel a single tear slowly drip down my cheek.
I prayed to anything and everything. But not that the Cubs could find a way to regain their composure. Not that the Cubs would win. Now, I just prayed for this to be over. Please don't put our parents and grandparents through this unimaginable suffering anymore. Please just rip the band aid off, Stop this pain, Please have the Indians walk off with their momentum right now so we can all go to bed and slowly, sadly, somehow wake up for work in the morning. Just like my parents and grandparents and great grandparents have every morning for 108 years.
It's impossible for me to feel comfortable cheering for the Cubs. Not after my lifetime. Not after the black cat, or Garvey, or Bartman, or the goat. But hey, we're up five runs, John Lester is dealing, and even Chapman at 80% percent is going to get this done.
But we didn't get it done. With a Cub-like collapse, the season was now thrown into the abyss. To make matters worse, the rain began to fall.
And then I watched it slip away. I texted my son: "Welcome to my life." This time, there was no response, and I knew. Hundreds of miles away, I knew my pain was his pain.
And then the tarp was rolled onto the field.
If there is any equivalent to hell on Earth, this was it. The forecast showed five hours of rain quickly approaching the stadium This is what happens when you take our curse lightly and foolishly believe this is really the year. You become reminded of why it is not.
And I couldn't help but look up toward the sky as the small rain was coming down and think, this is not rain. These are tears. Tears from Ronnie. Tears from Ernie. Tears from all of my father's heroes.
But then something unusual happened. The players came out of the clubhouse. The grounds crew was rolling up that tarp. There was a small, very small break in this monster of a storm. A break that would last, if we were lucky, one more inning. How can that be? At this exact place and time in the history of the universe, a small break in a cloud that stretched across multiple states? Maybe my prayers have been answered.
Schwarber came up with a quick single. And here came Almora jogging out of the dugout. Captain Joe wasn't going to wait any longer. He's pushed his chips all-in. Bryant sent a blast to the warning track, but the ball was caught. Then suddenly, there's Almora doing something you rarely see: tagging up from first on a fly ball. A small play in the box score. A giant play for a world's championship.
Up steps Zobrist, and he's quickly in an 0-2 hole. I was now sure that Zobrist would hit a ground ball.
And there it was. Ground ball left side.
The cameras turned to third base. It wasn't just any ground ball left side. It was a sharply hit ground ball left side. So sharp that Jose Ramirez had to dive to try and get it. So sharp that even as he stretched out his body, the ball got through.
The ball got through.
The ball got through.
I jumped off the couch. I lifted my arm and circled Albert home. I screamed run Albert. RUN.
Here came the throw home. As the ball came into home, the entire world saw it.
The Cubs had stormed back. Against all odds, against devastating blow after devastating blow. Against an 8th inning that even brought me to the floor. The Chicago Cubs had stormed back, and even added on another to make it 8-6.
As the rain stopped in Cleveland, it began to fall in St. Louis. Moments before the game resumed, I stepped outside. The season's were changing. Before long, this night would be a thing of the past, a footnote in history. And then it dawned on me: this was the Cubs. This was Game 7 of the World Series. This was extra innings. I'll tell you what this was. This was about to become the greatest game in the history of sports.
I stood in front of the television and furiously waved Almora (Almora!) home on the clutch hit by Zobrist. It was happening. It was happening right now.
I thought about my son. He wanted this win for me. I wanted it for him.
The Cubs only needed five outs in 2003. We only needed four an hour ago. Now we needed three. The storm the meteorologists warned about was now only 15 minutes away. Skipper Joe was right. If we are going to do this, it's happening right now.
After the commercial break, they turned to the pitcher’s mound. The back of the jersey read: Edwards Jr. The hopes of Cub Nation were riding on rookie? I could only imagine what dad was thinking.
Strike three on Napoli, and the Cubs were two outs away.
Ground ball to Addison by Ramirez, and the Cubs were one out away.
Now I really wondered about dad.
Just when you thought it was really going to happen, there's a walk, then a steal, then a hit, and suddenly it's a one run game, and the winning run is at the plate. 108 years-worth of pressure coming down to a single out. This is what happens when you take our curse lightly and foolishly believe this is really the year. You become reminded of why it is not.
I looked at the clock. 11:42 pm. We were one out away. I looked away from the TV and back up into the sky. I was certain that indeed, it was now or never. If it slipped away now, I knew I would never see it again. Maybe my son would someday, but I would be ruined for life.
One out. Then a walk, then a hit, then a run, then a pitching change. Welcome to Cub World.
Maddon put up two fingers. To signal in a man who had been used fairly often, but discounted recently because of the media's attention on Chapman. Mike Montgomery, I now recall, has been as solid as any of them. Even Chapman.
The curve ball was on. A fantastic display of a 12 to 6 drop. Strike 1. Again with the curve, strike 2. We were one strike away from history.
Ground ball. Third base. My father's hero played third base for the Cubs.
You could almost see the invisible wind pick up at that exact moment in time. After all, there was a gigantic storm about 5 minutes away. A storm 108 years in the making. The ball needed that little bit of wind, from Ronnie, to get there just in time.
And it did. The Chicago Cubs had won the World Series.
I was beyond scared by now. I knew this was it. One way or another. Either the curse was broken, or we would be the butt of jokes forever. One out, and Mike Montgomery, a mid-season, low level pickup is standing on the mound.
And now two strikes. I look at the clock again. 11:49. I can't breath, and I'm too scared to blink.
Ground ball to third. Oh my gosh! The Cubs have won the World Series!
For the second time in one hour, I had fall to my knees. I could not move. I could not speak. I could only feel a single tear slowly drip down my cheek. Young men don't cry.
And then that single tear turned into a sob. And a sob turned into a full cry. And while crying, I started to laugh.
This wasn't hell on earth. That rain delay wasn't Ron and Ernie crying. That rain delay was our past Cubs, doing everything they possibly could to help these Cubs. They never gave up, and they knew that our boys wouldn't give up either. They didn't give up in the NLDS against the Giants, down in the 9th. Or in the NLCS against the Dodgers, down 2-1 on the road with Kershaw looming. Or in the World Series down 3-1 without home field. Or in Game 7 when the lead was lost in the 8th.
They just needed a timeout to regroup. A small 10 minute rain delay break. At that exact moment in time.
And after the game was over, rain fell on the field for five straight hours. It was a storm 108 years in the making, after all. But unlike that rain delay earlier, this time, it was Ron and Ernie's tears of joy. Because they were there.
And the Chicago Cubs had won the World Series for the greatest fans in the world. Like my dad.
Age gives one perspective. It was just a baseball game. In just 100 days, they will be back on the fields in Florida.
But underneath the baseball banner are ties that bond. And tonight, at exactly 11:49, with raindrops falling on my head, I stood outside and looked to the northern sky, where I knew my son was having a moment just like me. A moment we each will never forget.
I felt old, tired, wet, and most of all, the happiest man in the world.
Go Cubs Go.