In Major League Baseball, the All Star Game marks the halfway point of the season. Anything can happen in the second half and the playoffs are always an adventure. Which brings me to the Cubs.
The way they are playing at the moment gives them an outside shot at the postseason. My throat tightened as I wrote that last sentence. “Are you crazy, guy?” I thought, concluding that I probably am. The Cubs do that to their fans who clutch at any possibility of this being THE year! So. What’s making the thought of that even possible?
To begin with, their manager. he’s a believer – and that can be contagious. Blown games do not blow him away. He knows baseball, the nature of the beast. He’s been at the top and feels he has the makings to get there again – if not this season then the next.
The “makings” are pitching and hitting, of course, but also a sense of team and possibility. At the moment all those elements are in play. Hitting has its problems, but if “the name of the game is pitching,” things are looking pretty good. The specter of “lovable losers” still pops up every now and then but dissipates quickly enough when the team wins a big one.
Then there’s the new/old Wrigley Field. Lots of changes: new bleachers, a massive scoreboard in left field (matching the one in right field would have looked better), but Wrigley is still Wrigley and the pleasures of the iconic old scoreboard remain. As does the ivy.
So far, the season holds promise which true-bruised Cub fans have come to mistrust. Things have a way of falling apart as a recent century attests. If the team can maintain its focus on winning, who knows how the season will go?
Those who see the game as boring probably miss the complexities of it, the many layers of games going on in each game. Even the worst bum at bat played them well enough to make it to the majors.
Thankfully, baseball is not a religion. Any team’s true believers, even the obnoxious ones, are basically harmless. The game is a metaphor for living; practically a philosophy. At its simplest, win some, lose some even as you do your best. But there is always a tomorrow, another game, another season.
Right now the Cubs are more than halfway to what their fans are dreaming and, can you believe, stayin’ alive.