Just over an hour ago, millions of Americans watched the Chicago Cubs break a 108-year old losing streak in the 10th inning of the 7th game of the 2016 World Series.
It. Was. Beautiful.
The Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians (who had their own streak to break and are surely hurting right now).
Honestly, I’ve not spent my life as a Cubs fan; I identify as a part of the NYC diaspora here in Austin. But this series was bigger than allegiance to any team. Right before tonight’s 10th inning, I put it this way on Facebook:
If you’re not watching Game 7 of the World Series right now, consider tuning in. There’s a rain delay now, tied at 6-6 and waiting for the 10th inning, so take your time, grab a drink. Two “cursed” teams, the wretched refuse of the game, one of whose time is about to come. Even if you don’t think you like baseball, watch. This is history happening. Clutch hits. Wild pitches. Errors. Miracles. Strategy in the dugout. If there is a better metaphor for the American Story, I can’t imagine what it is.
Look, that’s not exceptionally clever thinking. It was just the bottom line in that moment.
I’ve been married twice, and both husbands were big, big baseball fans — nay, experts — and they probably would have hated each other.
E. * was a lifelong Mets fan. Our first actual date was at Shea Stadium in 1986, and he taught me how to officially score a game. For real. We cheered Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry, Ron Darling and Lenny Dykstra, Keith Hernandez and Roger McDowell. The Mets won the World Series that year, and we were in love. We married four years later; we were married for five more.
Winning streaks do not last.
Charles was a lifelong Yankees fan. The year we started dating (2002) the Yankees played the regular season but lost the AL division series to the Angels. In 2003, they almost went all the way but lost to the Marlins in game six of the World Series. They kept coming so close, season after season, until they grabbed the championship back in 2009, four years into our marriage.
Yeah, I’m 100% certain that E. and Charles wouldn’t have like each other much. At least at first. They were each deeply committed to the success of rival teams in the same city.
But they both loved the game, and they taught me to love it, too. Left alone in a room long enough, I’m betting they would’ve learned to agree to disagree about team allegiances, recognizing that their commonalities and core values were far, far greater than their differences.
That’s America. That’s Americans.
Baseball is the single best metaphor for the American Experience I know. We all have so much in common. And baseball kinda teases out those best angels of our nature.
All of which is to say vote responsibly next week, if you haven’t already voted early.
(What, this doesn’t make sense? Well, it’s late. Cut me a break, okay?)
* I’m betting E. would prefer anonymity here, so I won’t name him. We divorced a long time ago, but back then he kind of wished I’d fall off the edge of a flat earth. I’ll assume he still holds the same opinion of me.