It’s nice that today is Halloween because the dark circles under my eyes make me look like I belong to the legion of the undead. That’s convenient. It’s not often that looking as over-tired as I helps my desired look.
Man, am I tired. Yesterday was Game 5 of the World Series, and even though there was no way we were going to get tickets, my parents and I wanted to be in the crowd when the Cubs won their first World Series game at Wrigley Field in 71 years. Our original plan was to go to Game 3 on Friday, but after their win at Cleveland in Game 2, we decided it would be better to go on Sunday when they could win it all…except then they lost. Twice. Painfully.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I wondered if my dad would want to go still. Saturday’s was a frustrating and emotional loss. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. Would it be worth the physical aftermath to stand outside or in an excessively loud bar for the evening while the Cubs lost? But not going would be like saying “yeah, they’re not going to win. The series is over. See you guys in the spring.” And that’s just too defeatist for me.
So even though we were still smarting from Games 3 and 4, we decided to hope for Game 5. That hope came so much more easily once we were surrounded by other fans on the shuttle from free parking to Wrigleyville. (People paid crazy amounts to park, but Wrigley has a free shuttle lot for night and weekend games. Don’t be the guy who shells out too much and has to sit in traffic for hours.) Spontaneous outbursts of “Let’s go, Cubbies!” are great for increasing optimism.
There’s something about standing in line for thirty minutes to use the one-stalled bathroom at a Taco Bell that isn’t so awful when it’s the Taco Bell across the street from Wrigley Field and everyone in line is as excited as you are. Camaraderie.That’s the spirit of Wrigleyville; everyone is there to be excited, to believe, together.
As game time neared, we looked for some place to eat that didn’t have a cover charge. The downside to World Series excitement is that it suddenly costs upwards of $200 just to enter establishments within a block radius of the field. But luck was on my side and Homerun Inn, one of the few pizza places that don’t use garlic or onion in their sauce (which means I can eat it), was free of cover charge and full of giant TVs. We were seated and eating by first pitch, when the chorus of “LET”S GO, CUBBIES” clap clap clapclapclap was more than loud enough to drown out the speaker system.
The difference between watching the game at your local bar and watching the game in Wrigleyville (assuming Wrigleyville isn’t local for you), is that no one is having irrelevant conversations. No one is talking about work or tomorrow’s plans or that thing Brian did at that party one time. Everyone is here for the game. There is only the game. And good plays are worthy of ecstatic outbursts, neutral moments deserve encouraging applause, and tense times are for hushed prayer.
It’s hard to sit at a table and calmly eat pizza when you’re team is in the World Series. I ate way too fast, like if I didn’t finish my food quickly enough the players would lose momentum. When I looked around, almost no one was eating as usual. It’s difficult to hold pizza when you might suddenly have to jump up and high five the person next to you. One of my favorite moments of the night was when a tiny kid, maybe five years old, walking back to his grown ups stopped to high five everyone at our table. The unexpectedness of a kiddo popping up so late in a loud, crowded place coupled with his quiet joy delighted me.
After the 7th inning, we left the restaurant to get back to the Addison and Clark. But it was nerve wracking to leave the comfort of eight screens (and warmth and seats). We checked every store front we passed for visible TVs and walked/ran towards the next window of light when there wasn’t one. A small group congregated outside of Sportsclips, which was hosting a private party of bros and the pope (thanks, Halloween), to watch the 8th through GO CUBS GO written in giant blue letters. This crowd was less physically enthusiastic than the last but more jokester, and there were plenty of nervous chuckles passed around, especially when the guys from inside opened the door to vape.
“The pope’s rooting for us. We got this.”
“Does the pope vape too?”
At the middle of the 8th, we took off again, joining the hundreds-strong crowd in front of the marquee. If there’s a fault with Wrigley Field, it’s that there is no outside screen visible from the street. If you’ve got eagle vision, you could probably make out the live feed screens levels above, I could see the pitch, but not the ball or the count. But it didn’t really matter. The crowd inside made it easy to distinguish a strike or a ball. And that final pitch!
The sound was beautiful. The crowd instantly grew several feet as hands went up, W flags whipped through the air, and CUBS WIN lit up the marquee. Confetti flew. Camera crews congratulated themselves on their great timing. My dad jumped into the background of an interview. My mom pretended not to know him. I sang as loud as I could.
And now I’m exhausted, but in a good kind of way. It’s worth a day or two of recovery to feel the electricity of a World Series game played (and WON!!) at Wrigley. Even though I’ve barely moved today, at least I’m flying the W.