Sometimes, our cup just runneth over. And, sometimes, that’s a shame.
Consider this year’s World Series. As of this writing, we are about 8 hours from knowing who the World Series champion will be. The Chicago Cubs have fought back from a 3-1 deficit in a seven-game series to force the much-loved, much sought-after, much longed-for, Game 7. Winner take all. None of the first six games matter any more. After 162 regular season games spanning a six-month-long season and divisional series games and league championship games and now, through six games of the World Series it has come down to this: one game for all the marbles.
If you are a baseball fan, your cup runneth over.
But wait, there’s more. The two teams playing in this year’s Fall Classic are on the verge of ending ignominious World Series droughts. One team will have their pain extended for at least another season. But one team – the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Indians – will end a long history of futility. For the Indians, the World Series failures date back to 1948 – 68 years. The Cubs, of course, haven’t won a World Series since 1908 – now some 108 years ago. As fans, we love the idea of a long-awaited redemption. In the early 2000s, the Boston Red Sox were suffering through their own World Series drought and pretty much everyone in America – except fans of the opposing team – wanted to see the Red Sox break through. And they did. And the world cheered. The Cubs and the Indians just kept plodding along waiting for their day in the sun.
So this year, in a way, it would have been nice if only one of those teams had made it this far so that the story lines from this year’s series could be all about that team’s streak. But no, our fans have two teams with similar stories to tell. The fans’ cups runneth over with the anticipation of one team or the other finally getting that monkey off their back.
My cup runneth over as well. For years, my youngest daughter, Pitt, and I – casual baseball fans at best during the regular season – have always enjoyed hanging out in front of the television to watch each game of that year’s World Series. This year, however, she’s away in school and we don’t see or talk to each other every day.
But we’ve managed to overcome the distance – it really isn’t that far – to enjoy a couple ball games together, including one Cleveland win and one Chicago win. Wednesday night’s Game 7 couldn’t be one of those nights, unfortunately, but we have managed to keep our tradition somewhat intact.
The great pleasure I derive from watching the World Series comes, in part, from watching the high drama of games in which every run, every pitch, every play means something. But mostly, I get to spend that time with my child. We comment back and forth throughout the game about which players we like and why, when it’s time to yank a pitcher and what the players should do with the ball if it’s hit to them in certain situations. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m 99 and 44/100ths percent sure that if every manager in every World Series game had listened to our advice, he’d be undefeated in World Series play and would likely have about a dozen World Series rings by now.
Alas, they can’t hear our advice, shouted to them through the television screen, though we deliver it with gusto.
My family time cup runneth over.
And, of course, baseball fans are treated every year to one of the greatest celebrations in all of sports. In basketball, there is a minor eruption of joy (former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano notwithstanding) when the clock hits zero. In football the explosion of joy seems tempered by the fact that so many fans at a Super Bowl are of the corporate variety and not the diehard fans that make a team go.
But in baseball, the celebration at the pitcher’s mound, once that last out is recorded, reminds us all of the sheer joy of winning. At that point, the big contracts don’t matter. The acrimony between the players’ union and the league is set aside. It’s like watching a bunch of 8-year-olds getting exactly the Christmas gift they always wanted.
Christmas was delayed for both these teams for a long, long time. But today, the winners’ cups runneth over.