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Unless you don’t have a pulse, you probably heard the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last week.
Greg and I got to go to games 4, and 6, and were incredibly, undeniably, unbelievably (I won’t say lucky because it wasn’t luck) fortunate to have seen the Cubs’ 108 year drought come to an end in person on a rainy night in Cleveland. But how did two cheapskates like us possibly make it to those huge events? Well, Wrigley was easy, as Greg and his cousin are season ticket holders, but it was thanks to some amazing foresight on Greg’s part that we got to Cleveland.
I’m currently working a 13 week travel assignment in Tulsa, but before I signed I made sure to write days into my contract for as much of the World Series as I could manage without missing any time at work. During the ALCS Greg started searching for World Series tickets in both Cleveland and Toronto, in case his beloved Cubbies won the NLCS over the Dodgers. He found plenty of tickets for sale in Toronto, and even Los Angeles and Chicago, but very few in Cleveland and those standing room only. Thinking something was amiss, he went on the Cleveland website and found they were still offering a chance to sign up for postseason tickets- unlike Chicago- so he entered both our emails via the Indians Insider. While Cubs postseason tickets are so popular you have to enter a lottery to have a chance (I’ve only ever heard of two people who were drawn), we both received invites for a pre-sale on Indians tickets. Since I was working, Greg forwarded my email to aforementioned cousin, another die-hard Cubs fan, and the two of them jumped online when they went live and Greg was able to secure two tickets to game 6, his cousin two tickets to game 7 (THANK YOU JIMBAR!). Bada bing, World Series tickets at face value. For the record they were $300 apiece for game 6 and $210 apiece for game 7. BEST. INVESTMENT. EVER.
After Cleveland beat the Blue Jays we booked Southwest award flights Chicago-Cleveland and a refundable hotel room by the Cleveland airport, and the next day Hendricks slayed Kershaw and the Cubs clinched their first pennant in 71 years. As a nurse I only have to work three shifts a week, and I can stack them to work six in a row and take eight off without missing any time so I worked the night of game 1 (boo), recovered the night of game 2 (yay!), and traveled with the team the day before game 3. Not like, actually with them, just the same day they did. Greg was/is still farming in North Dakota so we both flew standby and met in Chicago, where our friends Ben and Meghan were/are so very kind and gracious and good-looking and smart to host us during that portion of the Series. They live just a mile from Wrigley and are fellow Cubs-lovers so it was great sharing the games with them, losses and win. Even though we only went to one game at Wrigley, we walked there five or six times, just because we could.
We watched game 3 at a bar in Wrigleyville with Ben, his friend, and cousin Jim and uncle Jeff, and unlike some bars around Wrigley that were charging $200+ to get in and another $500-1000 for a table, Chicago’s Blarney Stone only charged $10 cover and we got there early enough to secure a table for the whole game. They weren’t serving any food so we had 100 wings delivered, and gorged ourselves and cheered our boys on to a 1-0 loss and saw the Indians lead go to 2-1 in the Series. It was a sad walk home, but Greg, Jim, and Ben are the most positive fans I know so none of us stayed down for long, and Greg and I got pumped for game 4.
Of course in game 4 the Cubs lost 7-2 and the Indians went up 3-1 in the Series. TOUGH TO WATCH. We sat in the bleachers long after our section had cleared and Greg tried to process while I just cried and cried, until security asked us to leave. We did, but not before picking up a few WS commemorative cups the drunk fans left behind. It was an even sadder walk home so we stopped for a slice of pizza to ease our pain. I’m happy to report we ate pizza every day we were in Chicago, per usual.
For game 5 we went to Ben’s cousin’s house in the ‘burbs and watched outside in front of a firepit and ate chili and made s’mores and it was friggin’ great. Our friends (including Mason, the game 5 good luck charm and our emotional support dog), a fantastic game, and a huge win for the Cubs. The Indians lead fell to 3-2, and the Series headed back to Cleveland to wrap things up.
After game 5 we took another rest day with the boys, then flew into Cleveland the morning of game 6. When we landed at CLE the Southwest ground crew played ‘Go Cubs Go’ over the intercom and some Indians fans around us were REAL mad. The jet bridge was decorated for the Indians, and when we walked into the terminal we were greeted with equal cheers and jeers from perfect strangers. We loved it. We had a late night and an early morning, so after taking the complimentary shuttle to our hotel, we checked in and went to bed as soon as our room was ready (and we were full-up on free (second) breakfast). We got up at 2:00p and each had a slice of leftover pizza from Chicago, and headed downtown (cruising through the alley) via the red line from the airport.
Most everyone we talked to in Cleveland were super nice and helpful, and several people wearing Indians gear welcomed us into their city. But then some people were real douche bags. I get it, I get supporting your team. I don’t get degrading other humans for acts they themselves have no control over. We just smiled and took it and moved on.
Our section was nearly all Indians fans, save for five of us brave, hopeful souls, and while everyone started out friendly the more alcohol that flowed in the more obnoxious our neighbors became. I get it, I get your team’s losing and it makes you real sad. I don’t get yelling, cursing at, and openly mocking other humans for acts they themselves have no control over. Well… I can control my cheering and my clapping I suppose, but why would I during GRAND SLAM TIME? An increasingly intoxicated woman in front of us turned around to ask:
IW: Where are you from?
Me: I’m from Oklahoma, he’s from North Dakota. You?
IW: I’m from here, but I used to live in Chicago. Have you ever lived in Chicago?
Me: No, we’re just big Cubs fans.
IW: Have you ever been to Wrigley?
Me: No, never. Is that in Chicago? (is what I wanted to say) Yes, of course, we were just there for game 4. (is what I actually said)
End of the conversation for us, but I watched her get up and approach two other Cubs fans and announce to everyone that they were from Chicago, so they were ‘true fans’. Eventually every time we clapped or cheered she would announce to the section “Not true fans, everyone! Not. True. Fans.” You’re right. We just happened to be in town tonight and heard there was a game. Let’s go Drillers! I watched her get ripped to the point of looking like a cat ready to yack up a hairball so I started fake retching, hoping to get her to puke. Greg made me stop and reminded me we are happy, foul-weather fans.
A lot of folks filing out and our section nearly empty by the end. Those people spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on tickets and got up and left game 6 of the World Series when it looked like they would lose. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT! This summer Greg and I sat through 15 innings in Cincinnati, happy as larks to go through two seventh inning stretches and we paid $15/ticket. Greg asked me “How would you feel if your team rallied and you missed them winning the World Series?” Like a big ol’ ball of douche, that’s how. Are we not all baseball fans? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Of course Cleveland didn’t rally and the Cubs won 9-3 and tied up the Series 3-3.
We went home high as kites and stayed up until 3:00a eating the last of our leftover pizza and watching highlights and replays. We set an alarm for 9:30a so we wouldn’t miss free breakfast, then went back to sleep until nearly 2:00p to prepare for a long night. I swear, I was so nervous getting ready for game 7 I felt like I was taking the field myself. Greg keeps track of our personal wins and losses, and he was happy to realize we were up 4-0 watching the Cubs in Ohio for the season, so we felt confident about getting to 5-0. Alright, I was ready to puke. It was a much, much different crowd in and around the stadium than it was for game 6. LOTS more Cubs fans and they were PUMPED. We talked to several people who had gone to work that morning in Chicago, only to realize the horrible mistake they were making, and they dropped everything and drove to Cleveland in time for the game. Because that’s what game 7 in the World Series is all about. Wildest dreams and once-in-a-lifetime and all that. Well, maybe o-i-a-l if you keeled over immediately after the game.
In case you missed game 7 and want to watch it quick:
WHAT A GAME. We had lots of Cubs fans around us and only a couple of douchers (not to say all Indians fans are douchers, I’m not saying that at all) harassed us, including one guy who got in both our faces to yell at us about Kluber. Yeah, well, Kluber didn’t strike a single player out and was pulled after giving up four runs, including Fowler’s lead-off homer, so… kindly get out of my face. We never sat down for a single pitch and I was ready to tip my hat when it looked like Cleveland would rally after Davis’ worst-nightmare game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the 8th. Thankfully there were no runs scored in the 9th and we went into extra innings. Free baseball! Then between the 9th and 10th the skies opened up and the tarp came out and the game went into a rain delay. It was about the longest 17 minutes of my life and I told Greg I didn’t think my heart could handle any more innings. Like it would burst, or wither and die. But the 2016 Chicago Cubs never say die. Top of the 10th: Schwarber singled. Bryant flied out, Almora base ran for Schwarbs to second. Rizzo intentionally walked. Zobrist doubled, Almora in, Rizzo to third. Russell intentionally walked. Montero singled, Rizzo in, Zobrist to third. Heyward struck out. Baez flied out. It went to the bottom and with two outs the Indians managed to score again before a 5-3 grounder ended the ballgame. CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!
Now I’ve always loved baseball. Ironically, I liked the Indians and the White Sox as a kid. I collected baseball cards, and followed Jim Abbott, Jose Canseco, Frank Thomas, Kenny Lofton, and Ken Griffey Jr. Why, I haven’t left the house without my KGJ glove in my car since I was in high school, just in case. I love playing catch with my husband and yard ball with our nieces and nephews, wearing my soft pants and watching games at home, listening to games on road trips and while I’m supposed to be providing quality patient care at work, and of course actually going to games. Little League, Legion, Minors, Majors, doesn’t matter, I love them. I love baseball weather and baseball food, I love when Greg lets me keep score, I love throwing my arm around him and singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame at the top of my lungs (great, I’m crying), I love showing up to games the second the gates open so we can try for BP balls, I love staying until the very end of every game no matter what, and I really love being acknowledged by our favorite players. Zobrist gave Greg a fist pump at the Cubs Convention in January and he brings it up at least once a week. And who could forget Kris Bryant slapping my hand last year during the NLCS? Definitely not me.
But more than any of those things… I love how close this passion has brought me to Gregory, my happy, positive, handsome, funny, athletic genius of a husband and I am so, so, so glad I was there to witness one of his wildest dreams come true.
We both agreed- if we had to choose between getting married again and going back to game 7… we’d root root root for the CUBBIES and head to the nearest courthouse after it was over.