I wondered how I would wake up this morning, after the Cubs lost a key game last night – doing so in a way that, historically, would maximize the rage and frustration.
To be honest, though? I don’t really feel the normal level of rage. I just feel sad.
The biggest part of that feeling for me is that the Cubs could have had such a good story last night. In a baseball season of 162 games – nearly half of them disappointing for even the best teams – it’s rare that you get those individual, one-game experiences to sit back and enjoy a good story.
Anthony Rizzo comes back, to the shock of everyone, busting out a Kirk Gibson-style hobble-homer. The Cubs come back, to the shock of everyone, busting out three runs in the bottom of the 9th to send the game to extras, with the tying run scored by a returned Javy Baez. And then the Cubs, to the shock of considerably fewer, lose the game in the 10th inning. The fact that it was a returned Craig Kimbrel who gave up the decisive homer just adds to the bummer.
If the Cubs had instead won that game – a game so meaningful in the standings and so infused with grandeur – it would be the kind of story we re-tell, re-live, and re-love for years. It isn’t the World Series or anything, but it would have been a good story.
And instead, now it will fade into the muddied recollection of those of us who look back with vague contempt at the way the 2019 Cubs season (very likely) ended. “Hey, remember when Anthony Rizzo came back really quickly from that bad ankle injury and homered against the Cardinals that time? Pretty sure they blew that game or something later, but that was kinda cool I guess.”
We don’t get to choose which moments and which games become the stories we tell, but that was gonna be one, man.
Who knows where the season would have gone from there. The Cubs would still have had a lot of ground to cover, as they do now. The Cubs would still be dealing with the Brewers, as they are now. But it would have been a singular game in this spiritually challenging season that we could have enjoyed so surprisingly, knowing that we could talk about it for years.
No dice. Sports. Sigh. On to the next opportunity.