Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hold your loved ones dear and settle in. We could be here a while.

We knew it had to be this way. For two such perennially-maligned franchises as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians to meet in a World Series, we knew the drought for each side had to be dragged out just a teensy bit longer. When this Series was set and we knew the World Series would be contested between two teams currently enduring a combined 176 championship dry spell I had multiple operating theories on what it meant for me, society at large and the perpetuation of the species in general. This wasn't supposed to happen. We weren't supposed to be in this corner, forced to steel ourselves for the end times as two curses ran head on into one another.

And yet here we are.

I often joked before this series began that I was predicting not a Chicago or Cleveland victory, but rather an apocalyptic event. After all, these are not teams that win the World Series. These are teams that raise their fans' hopes only to dash them incomprehensibly. These are the teams of a 100-win Indians team in a 144-game season coming up short against a historic rotation, or of a 3-1 NLCS lead against an upstart Marlins team vaporizing into thin air. These are the teams of Jose Mesa's blown save and Alex Gonzalez's booted ground ball (because, let's be frank, Steve Bartman was not really at fault).

These are two teams that only win the World Series if it happens on the big screen, but Henry Rowengartner and Pedro Cerrano aren't walking through that door. And Rick Vaughn definitely isn't walking through that door. Or at least not the bullpen doors.

Simply put, the reason we have reached Game 7 is because, somehow, we have two World Series participants that are fated never to win a title, and with no third option, the universe is stretching this thing out as long as possible until it discovers an exit strategy. That doesn't simply mean tonight's game was guaranteed to exist, it means that we may be in for 30 innings of baseball until the cosmos have sorted everything out.

I cannot say for certain what will happen. Will the Cubs finally end the longest, most comically unthinkable title drought in North American major league sports? Or will all the ritual Billy Goat sacrifices on the north side of Chicago provided no impact as the Indians give Cleveland its second title in five months after the city spent five fruitless decades without a championship?

For once, I have no idea. I used to operate under a belief structure that this world was governed by rational hard facts and that superstition took a back seat to logic with one notable exception, that the Chicago Cubs would never win the World Series. But now even that intangible, baseless assumption is on the verge of nullification.

Part of me is intrigued, most of me is fearful. After all, if the Cubs or Indians win a World Series, who knows what could come next? In times of uncertainty, though, you have to ignore your anxieties and be certain to control only the things you can control. After all, I can't declare tonight's winner-take-all madness a tie for the safety of mankind, nor can I precipitate the falling of Cleveland into Lake Erie so we are spared this tempting of biblical cataclysm, nor can I uncover an arcane rule that somehow, someway awards the Mets the 2016 World Series title by virtue of their combined 7-3 record against this season's pennant winners, including a four-game sweep of Chicago.

I can do nothing. So, instead, I will do the only thing I can do. I will watch. You should probably watch this Game 7, too. It may be the last time we get to see one.

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