Thursday, November 3, 2016

All the Way

"We're like brothers in arms in the streets and the stands
There's magic in the ivy and the old scoreboard
The same one I stared at as a kid keeping score
In a world full of greed, I could never want more
Than someday we'll go all the way."
            “Go All the Way,” Eddie Vedder

It finally happened after 108 years, near the stroke of midnight after all seemed lost: in what writers are calling the greatest (and most gut-wrenching) game seven ever, the Cubs won the World Series finale, 8-7, in ten innings.  The Cubbies streaked to a 5-1 lead only to have the Indians tie the score in the eighth on a shocking home run off elite closer Aroldis Chapman.  In the stands Cleveland fans were going wild, including Lebron James, who four months ago led the Cavaliers to an NBA championship after being down three games to one to favored Golden State.  When the Cubs were down 3-1, odds-makers gave them a scant 15% chance, but they never gave up despite what appeared to be grievous tactical errors by manager Joe Madden, taking starter Kyle Hendricks out too soon and then doing the same thing with Jon Lester.  During a 17-minute rain delay after the ninth inning, Jason Hayward, who has struggled at the plate all season, called a meeting and reminded the players, some in tears, that the team stuck together and has been resilient all year. 
The Cubs scored two in the tenth on clutch hits by Series MVP Ben Zobrist (above) and sub Miguel Montero and held on in the bottom of the inning with the potential winning run at the plate.  General manager Jed Hoyer later quipped that the rain was like divine intervention. Referring to ghosts of past defeats, Ben Zobrist said, “You know what?  I think we just shit-canned those curses.”  In the stands were die-hard Cub fans comedian Bill Murray and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, whose “Go All the Way” contains these lines:
In the same ball park
Our diamond, our jewel
The home of our joy and our tears
Keeping traditions and wishes made new
A place where our grandfathers, fathers they grew
A spiritual feeling if I ever knew
And if you ain't been I am sorry for you
And when the day comes with that last winning run
And I'm crying and covered in beer
I'll look to the sky and know I was right
To think someday we'll go all the way.

I was on the phone several times with son Dave, who suffered through the 1984 and 2003 heartbreaks.  I wanted him to feel the same thrill I had in 1980 when the Phillies won their very first Fall Classic.  On Facebook he posted: “Real tears now .. . . Can’t believe it!!!!!!!”  Daughter-in-law Delia added: “Coming from a very large family of ‘die hard’ Cub fans, so glad I was able to witness this amazing event in Cubs history.” Marianne Brush wrote: For all our loved ones who didn't live to see this. dad, father-in-law, and husband, ‘The Cubs are gonna win today!’ You're in our thoughts tonight!”  Ray Smock emailed:
  So fairy tales can be real once in a while. I was filled with joy last night when the Cubs won. It was the first baseball game I have watched from beginning to end in probably 20 years. This was about as perfect a 7th game as you would ever want to see. It was the Cub's manager who was more nervous than the players. You could see it. You could feel it. His hasty decisions on his pitchers almost cost the Cubs the game. But it was fascinating to watch. Every player was less than perfect, but most of them had perfect moments last night. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we would listen to ball games on the radio and get caught up in the narrative. Every pitch, every strike and ball, seemed to have deep meaning in the unfolding of the game. Even after TV began covering all the games, mostly day games back then, I would be out on a summer day waxing my car and listening on the car radio with the windows down. We used to listen to the Indianapolis 500 the same way, not seeing any of it but listening to the announcers in the turns describing the race, and hearing the background sound of high whining engines. 
Gustave Dore, Children's Crusade, 19th century lithograph

David Parnell taught about 1212 Children’s Crusades led by young shepherds, Nicholas of Cologne and Stephan of Cloyes, who believed the Mediterranean Sea would magically part or dry up and enable them to walk to the Holy Land, where they’d peacefully convert infidels to Christianity. Many then accepted free passage on merchant ships and were treacherously sold into slavery.  The class discussed Jonathan Riley-Smith’s article “Crusading as an Act of Love” (1979) in which the author cites clerical rationales to justify crusading as expressions of love of God, love of one’s neighbor, and love of one’s enemy.  A majority of students could buy people being brainwashed by religious leaders claiming it was a demonstration of one’s love of God, but the class was divided on Riley-Smith’s second point, love of one’s neighbor, and almost nobody bought the third justification, love of one’s enemy. Cynic that I am, I argued that the pope’s granting Crusaders a plenary indulgence - the promise of forgiveness for all sins that they might commit - gave them the license to rape and pillage to their heart’s content.

George Van Til offered me a ticket to see the Moody Blues concert at the Star Plaza, preceded by dinner at T.J. Maloney’s with George Van Til, John Keil, and Highland clerk-treasurer Michael Griffin.  Many patrons were wearing Cub gear.  Griffin teaches part-time at IUN for SPEA, and I mentioned how Gary Martin did so much to build the Criminal Justice component before becoming chief of police under Lake County sheriff Roy Dominguez.  Van Til interjected that he had recommended Martin to Dominguez on the advice of Griffin.
The Moodies seem to get better each time (and this makes at least eight) I see them live.  Justin Hayward, often cool and calm compared to bandmate John Lodge, seemed deeply moved by the appreciative audience.  Beforehand, Star Plaza CEO John Blum announced that earlier in the day Lodging Services Corporation, which owns the Star Plaza, has reconsidered its decision to demolish the 37 year-old venue and instead will spare the building from the wrecking ball.  Blum, below, said that the outpouring from the community far exceeded what he expected and many entertainers also contacted him to express how much they’d miss coming to Merrillville.  Hearing the Moodies play “Your Wildest Dreams” was a fitting climax to an amazing 24 hours.

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