If I’m counting correctly, it was about 26 years ago that Cute W, another friend, and I decided on a whim to make the approximately 9-hour-roundtrip road trip from our college in the middle of Iowa to a Cubs game. Our girlfriend is a huge Cubs fan, and catching a game at Wrigley field felt like a bucket list item. Plus it was college, the era of goofy and procrastination-fueled road trips. Why, just the previous year I had participated in a 7-hour-roundtrip drive to Lincoln, Nebraska to see an REM concert. Which would almost seem worth it, if it weren’t for the fact that REM had played in the nearest town two just nights before, and no one had come up with the idea to go to that concert. But I digress. The point is that at least five hours after we’d left town (we’d stopped to pick up the girlfriend’s boyfriend on the way), we arrived very close to Wrigley Field and were amazed at the parking that was available. We drove closer and became more amazed, thrilled, even. We drove practically right up to the stadium and became nervous. We paused to look more carefully at the game schedule in the newspaper (yes, those were the days when one checked schedules in newspapers) and we realized that we’d read it wrong. There was no game that day. Instead, we went to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Last night, I approached Game 7 with similar ill-informed enthusiasm. I was as passionate about a Cubs win as someone who barely pays attention to baseball and had only caught about one hour of the first six games can be. Mostly, it was about our friend, but Cute W and I had also gone to minor league games in Des Moines as newlyweds, where the home team was the Iowa Cubs and all the best players headed to Chicago next. Watching game 7 brought home that Indians mascot again, which was another brick in the wall. Seriously, who still thinks it’s a good idea to have a racial-stereotype caricature as a mascot? I know I come off as humorless, but if my choices are humorless or unkind, I’ll go without humor. As I observed the game and the racially-charged posters and dress-up, my animus toward Cleveland took root, and the urgency and drama of the battle increased.
With the Indians’ home run toward the end, all of the Cubs fans started looking very, very sober. And I started having a little freak-out. Sitting on the couch watching events unfold, it felt like an uncomfortable preview of election night. If I was becoming this stressed out about something that really, really didn’t matter to me, how will I possibly make it through Tuesday night? Then some mention was made about the Cubs pitcher Chapman’s alleged history of domestic violence, and that was demoralizing. So much for the good guys. That felt a bit like this election, too. More than that, though: this season has been horrifying on so many levels, but one of its greatest horrors is the repeated reminder that men who abuse women are often unrepentant, excused, and even celebrated. Probably at this point I should have just started drinking. Instead, I tried to steady my nerves by setting aside the computer and all of its social media tentacles.
This turned out to be a mistake. The laptop, at least, had kept me engaged during the commercials. I was sleepy. Baseball is slow. So. Very. Slow. Cute W was on one couch, eyes closed, seemingly fast asleep, but when anything of significance happened, I’d turn to see him blinking at the screen, able to maintain consciousness with some sixth sense derived from the kind of hours of tv game-watching over the years that I just haven’t logged. As for me, I was losing the battle. I hate falling asleep on the couch. I hate being snuggly and cozy and then having to get up and walk up the stairs and basically wake myself up, because whatever moments of sleep I’ve had form a chemical reaction with the movement of my legs and awaken me entirely so that I spend at least another 45 minutes fully alert and resenting my wakefulness. So in spite of the nail-biter of a game, when they started pulling the tarp over the field for a rain delay, I was out. I might have been able to stay awake if I knew the Cubs would prevail, but the thought of sitting through it for a loss was too much. “They’ve got the tarps out,” I announced to Cute W, whose eyelids fluttered. I stumbled up to bed, fell asleep soon thereafter, and woke at 5:45 am to check the results on my phone.
Something tells me I’ll be getting less sleep on Tuesday.