If you don’t know enough baseball, that’s okay. This isn’t a baseball story. It’s a comeback story.
Has it ever happened to you where no matter how hard you keep trying, you keep failing to the point that no cliché superimposed on a pretty picture could make you feel better? Nothing you do seems to get you closer to those elusive goals, so that your brain starts to think that maybe it’s time to give up. Yet somehow, through the misery and mockery, your heart never seems to lose the desire to keep going. It’s happened to me, but it’s peanuts compared to a hundred years of the Chicago Cubs trying, failing, and waiting to finally #FlyTheW.
Now, I’m neither a baseball player nor proficient in the sport, but dating one for three years has given me enough know-how to, uh, know how huge this is. In the 1900s, the Chicago Cubs were one of the most dominant baseball teams. And then they weren’t. Their last World Series win was in 1908—that’s a whopping 108 years ago.
Anton, who flew all the way to Chicago after the NLCS (National League Championship Series) to see his team play, tells me that over that century, they have come to be the Lovable Losers. Underdogs. Punchlines of TV shows, films, and cartoons. Post-game heartbreak, he says, has been part of the authentic Chicago experience. In fact, the Cubs lost the first two games he got to watch:
I came in for Game 3, Friday. It was the first night game to be hosted in Wrigley Park (they didn’t have lights before then) and their first World Series game since 1945.
The next few hours were a gruelling roller coaster as we were blanketed in the cold winds from Lake Michigan. Stars were unable to get a hit. They always seemed to get a chance to tie the game, only to falter in the end. It was a disquieting train ride home—old men moaning about witnessing this too many times, people talking about traveling long distances only to catch yet another heartbreak, the only consolation coming from the train operator saying we still had a chance.
Saturday came and pretty much brought in the same: the Chicago Cubs had a promising start, but the Cleveland Indians scored, then scored again, then quashed any hopes. Now down 3-1, the Cubs had to win the next three games or extend the drought to 109 years.
We went to Church that Sunday praying for a miracle. The Cubs gave us two, courtesy of Kris Bryant and Fil-Am up-and-comer Addison Russell. Six games down, tied at 3-3.
With Tuesday came THE TWO GREATEST WORDS IN SPORTS: GAME SEVEN. All 40 million of us braced for the long day ahead, looking forward to this winner-take-all.
It had all the makings of a storybook ending. The Cubs had taken a 6-3 lead, and were one inning away from the championship. But then, Cleveland strung together three consecutive hits. Chicago Cubs fans that were cheering just a few minutes before had fallen silent, seemingly preparing for yet another colossal defeat. Even the grounds took a gloomy turn: enter the rain.
The groundsmen had to place a tarp on the outfield to preserve it for play. As if the suspense wasn’t enough, so began the most tense 15 minutes I’ve known.
Little did we know that the rain delay would bode well for the Cubs. A tearful Aroldis Chapman came into the locker room with the rest of his teammates in a huddle. Their mantra had always been: “We Never Quit.”
And boy, did they live up to that. Before the extended 10th inning was over, they were up 8-6. The Indians managed to score another run and threatened to tie up the game once more. Alas, it fell short when a ball was hit to Kris Bryant. With all the pressure of the world on his shoulders, he approached the ball smiling and calmly threw the ball to first base. He slipped in the process, but secured the game-ending out. The score: 8-7.
The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. Words I thought I would never hear.
Not just the Chicago Cubs
TL;DR: 2016 is the comeback year for the Chicago Cubs. And it isn’t just them. We were in Melbourne last month, and they’re crazy over “footy” (Australian football) over there. Their favorite underdogs, the Western Bulldogs, became AFL champions after 62 years. As we made our way to Sydney, news broke out that the rugby team Cronulla Sharks bagged the NRL championship after 49 years.
I started this post by sharing that I’ve been feeling something similar to these folks, albeit on a smaller scale. If you’re a long-time reader—hello and thank you!—you may have noticed that it’s been months since I wrote anything. My posts on Instagram and Facebook Page have been few and far in between. I could say that I’ve been extremely busy: I work full-time as the communications manager of a big corporation, I went to grad school, and I do all sorts of freelance creative work. It would all be facts, but it wouldn’t be the whole story.
The truth is, for a while there, I’ve simply stopped seeing the point. Virtually everyone is a self-styled blogger—nay, influencer—these days, with impeccable flat-lay skills for shooting freebies that awesome brands send over. We all get invited to media launch after themed ball after product showcase. Everyone posts snippets of their lives on Youtube (me since 2006) and Snapchat (I still don’t get it, but I guess I could try. Or nah) and most everyone is trying to get a book out. So what was the point? Content would be the same across the board, homogenous, perhaps varying only in grammar, tone, and writing skills.
So what’s the point?
When I decided I wanted to become a writer (in grade school), an editor (in high school), a producer (in college), and a blogger (ten years ago actually, I just didn’t have the guts to do so), I didn’t set out to be just another egg in a box of dozens. I wanted to create content for a living because (1) I loved it, and (2) I’d like to inspire a person or two with the stuff I put out. By being just another one in a sea of many, I didn’t feel like I was getting to do either.
A ton of blog posts lay waiting in the back burner: partnerships with my favorite brands, essays about the stuff I care deeply about, travel diaries of Singapore, Bangkok, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, and local hangouts, requested tutorials and YouTube covers. I had so much fun in real life, but I had been so uninspired whenever things had to go online. Remember Aussie blogger Essena O’Neill? She claimed she quit blogging because it was only fun online but not IRL. Mine was the opposite of that. A break from all of it seemed like the best thing to do.
Something started to click after Australia, and the Cubs’ triumph drove it home. It’s a little hard to explain it in words (I know, I know, I’ve rambled long enough), but let’s just say, I’ve regrouped, and I’m coming back.