The picture above was taken back in 2003, at the annual Albuquerque Balloon Festival. The young girl on my shoulder is now 12 years old, and she’s still got a sparkle in her eye. She likes it when I use pictures of her in my posts, and as long as that’s the case, I’ll keep on doing it. But there’s a story behind this picture, as well.
The picture was taken as the 2003 National League LCS was being played out. Yes, that subject again. Since I don’t have any actual World Series tales to tell, this is going to have to do. Until Theo does his thing and turns it all around, that is.
The Cubs lost the first game to the Marlins, which I wrote about here, and they won the next three in a row to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. This presented a situation I had not anticipated before: With the Cubs on the verge of winning the pennant, I wanted to be at home in Chicago when it happened.
I remembered all of the horn-honking and high-fiving that went on when the Bulls won their championships in the 1990s, and I wanted to be a part of that for the Cubs. Whether that meant going out to a bar, or heading down to the vicinity of Wrigley Field, I didn’t quite know yet. But celebrating in Albuquerque, New Mexico held no appeal to me.
So as Game five started at Pro Player stadium in Miami, I found myself indifferent as to whether or not the Cubs won the game. If you had pressed me on the subject, I would have said I’d rather be in Chicago when they did win the pennant. I didn’t root for the Cubs to lose the game, but I didn’t really want them to win it, either. And looking back on it now, they’re really the same thing.
When Josh Beckett–who the Cubs had knocked around in Game one of the Series–began shutting down the Cubs, in what would turn out to be a two-hit shutout, I wasn’t particularly concerned. In fact, I told myself it was a good thing, because now I’d be in Chicago when the pennant was clinched. It wasn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when this was going to happen, and I had gotten what I wanted.
It’s completely irrational for me, or any other fan, to think they can have any effect on what happens on the field of play. I’ve turned on games before where the first pitch I’ve seen has been hit out of the park, and I’ve said to myself “better watch something else instead.” Or some people have a lucky hat they wear when the watch a game, or a certain room they have to watch the game in. We all have our quirks when it comes to rooting for our team. And, in reality, our team has no concern for what we fans do or don’t do during the game.
What Beckett’s outing did, other than send the Series back to Chicago as I wanted, was restore his confidence as a pitcher. This paid off handsomely for the Marlins in Game seven of the series, when Beckett pitched four innings of middle relief that stifled the Cubs and extinguished their hopes for a comeback. But none of that was apparent to me on that Sunday in Albuquerque, when I just wanted to see the Cubs win the pennant in Chicago.
So which would I rather have, eight years after the fact? A pennant celebration at my in-laws house in New Mexico, or writing a blog post lamenting the way things eventually turned out? And please tell me you already know the answer.