Chicago Cubs and all of professional baseball provide hope


It never ceases to amaze me how certain moments in our lives are relieved as if they occurred yesterday. We often times will remember it by saying, “man, I still recall exactly where I was”.

The Chicago Cubs have never failed to provide me with those moments as a fan growing up. Just ask my couch how it felt after Alex Gonzalez booted the bases-loaded ground ball in Game 6. 

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That’s exactly my point. I just had to mention Alex Gonzalez and most of you immediately go to that dark place. For that I apologize.

But for me there are two instances that happened close to each other that I think about this time of year.

August 8th, 2001 I found myself sitting in the one hundred level down the first base side. It was like any other night game, but with the added spice that only the 7th inning stretch could provide.

On this night, Cubs nation was introduced to Angel Hernandez. After calling Ron Coomer out at home, the stadium was ready to burst.

Steve “Mongo” McMichael came to the rescue by famously challenging the umpire to a fight after the game. For this, he became the only guest conductor to ever be ejected from a game to my knowledge.

On the game’s final play, Joe Girardi drove a single into the outfield in a tied game in the 9th. Ricky Gutierrez came flying around third only to slip coming around the bag.

Girardi, who presumed Gutierrez would score got caught in a rundown. As the Colorado Rockies cycled the ball between first and second, Gutierrez took his chances and sprinted home. The deafening sound as the crowd cheered the winning run is still with me today.

Watch the final play here. (caution: adult language used)

At that moment, it felt amazing to be a part of something special. That win meant so much to us given we were in a playoff race. To be so emotionally attached to a baseball game felt like the only important thing at the time.

Then September 11th arrived.

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In a blink of an eye, baseball stopped. Our Lives stopped. Much like my memory of the game only a month earlier, I was frozen in a moment that I have relived many times over the course of the last 14 years.

Suddenly the things I held so close and put so much emotional time and effort into didn’t seem to be important. Baseball took a backseat to the life-changing tragedy that engulfed New York City on that early workday morning.

Whether you cheered for the Cubs or preferred Cardinal red, we shared the same heavy heart that only 24 hours earlier were divided by a mutual dislike. But as baseball has done in our great history as a nation, it brought us together.

By season’s end, I have found it fitting that the Yankees played in the Fall Classic that year. Despite the outcome, it’s what it symbolized that carried a greater meaning. Hope.

A team that was so closely connected to those we lost, to a city that was in desperate need of something to rally around. Even in our darkest moments, baseball has remained a constant presence in our society.

So here we sit just a day after Sept. 11th, 2015 and I continue to see how baseball can live on as the calming influence in our lives.

With all of the madness that consumes the news and the ongoing violence that has plagued Chicago for years, the youngsters on the North Side have given us a great escape from the world, if only for a few hours a day.

Their optimism and enthusiasm are contagious and one of these days they will provide us with that next moment that we will relive over and over.

I think The Shawshank Redemption said it best. “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.” -Andy Dufresne

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