If you just want the quick-and-dirty version of the average fan’s perspective Monday’s Cubs game, it goes a little something like this:
Oh no, here we go again. Freaking 4-0 hole in the 4th.
Hell yeah, we just batted around and scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 4th to take the lead! And Starlin Castro drove in 2 runs with an actual hit! All is right with the world.
I hate this piece of crap team. They suck, they’ve proven they’re not ready to compete and they have multiple holes. Rafael Soriano is a waste of time and money, Jason Motte’s one pitch isn’t fooling anyone, Jorge Soler plays right field like a drunken beer-leaguer in the third game of the night under questionable lighting, and Joe Maddon is a moron.
Hey, Dexter Fowler’s been really good in the second half and oh…my…God. KrisBryantjustsmashedacementmixerintothebleachersandtheCubswonandIcan’tbreatheoreventhink. (It’s really hard to type without using spaces). The Cubs are awesome, I love this team!
The full version is much more nuanced, but you’re not going to find it here. Not all of it anyway. I’ve got a headache worse than Charlie Blackmon’s beard, which is making it very difficult to string thoughts together in any kind of sequence. But let’s have at it here and see if I can’t make something happen.
I had already begun writing something along the lines of “Thank you, Cubs, we needed this.” After the weekend of woe against the Phillies, fans were searching for something to prove that the first half of the season hadn’t been just a mirage. They got just that in the 4th inning, when the Cubs exploded for 6 runs, their highest total in one frame since hanging 7 on the Indians in Cleveland.
Everything went their way that inning; hits found holes as even the great Nolan Arenado was unable to handle a screamer off the bat of Bryant. Rizzo’s shallow fly to center was nearly snagged by Blackmon, but rolled out of his glove as he somersaulted after diving to make a play. Castro drove in two runs and Addison Russell smashed a double to drive his shortstop in.
Everyone was hitting and all was right with the world. Nothing could go wrong with the Cubs from here on out, we started to reason. The bad mojo had all gone away over the weekend and had been replaced by the magic that had so permeated the team only a month or so ago. Ah, but the warm fuzzies were short-lived.
Motte may have lost his closing duties and Soriano his job as the pair combined to give up 4 runs and the lead in the 9th. One thing that was certainly lost was confidence, in Maddon, in the players, in the hopes of a trade for that missing piece or two. I’ve seen ups and downs in a game before, but this was some screeching-to-a-halt, turning-on-a-dime insanity. And it wasn’t over.
Addison Russell gave the ball a bit of a ride to lead off the inning, but ol’ Blackbeard was able to haul it in easily. Then Fowler reached on a little grounder in the hole on the right side before David Ross made a very loud out, again to Mr. Teach. Maybe in his prime, or if he had been pitching, that ball gets out. Instead, it was up to Kris Bryant. Not too long ago, that would have been a best-case scenario, but the rookie has looked very rookie-ish in stretches.
He had, however, been hitting the ball pretty hard of late. I’ve had my hopes dashed too many times to expect anything great, but what unfolded next was proof that life truly is stranger than Pulp Fiction sometimes. The Cubs — and, really, all of their fans — were Mia Wallace, with Bryant playing the role of Vincent Vega, holding that shot of adrenaline poised over our collective heart.
See, I toldya. The full video of that majestic and shot is below, and you really need to watch it a few (dozen? hundred?) times. Actually, on second thought, don’t watch it. Well, okay, watch it at least once. But then close your eyes and just listen to one of the greatest home run calls I’ve heard in a long time. Most of us already know this, but Len Kasper is truly a gem. The man just knows how to call a game and he’s self-aware enough to not take himself too seriously.
But the best part of this particular call was what Len didn’t say. What helped make it so beautiful were the nearly 5 seconds of air time with nothing but the sound of baseball. You hear fans chanting, the crack of ash on leather, and then exultation from the assembled masses, all before Kasper’s excited voice punctuates the moment as he excitedly describes the “High, deep drive, way back…BALLGAME OVER! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! OH, BABY, KRIS BRYANT!
And then you’ve got another 5 seconds of just the crowd’s reaction before JD chimes in at all. It was just so fantastic, and not only because I couldn’t really have comprehended what they were saying anyway. The men in the booth were just as shocked/excited/relieved as we were, and the call was so pure and organic that it only added to the play. Just amazing. For the record, Pat Hughes’ call was excellent as well, but I’m going to have to give this one to Len.
I still don’t have any confidence whatsoever in Soriano when the situation has even the slightest bit of leverage and I don’t trust a back-end guy in Motte who’s only got one pitch, particularly when he’s got trouble locating it. I’m not sold on the rotation, despite feeling much better about Kyle Hendricks that I did early in the season, and I feel as though they need a stronger bench bat. But, man, it’s hard to nitpick at a time like this.
Not only am I exceedingly happy with the result of the game, but this headache is seriously impacting my ability to produce cogent thoughts. So goodnight, kids, I’ll see you back here tomorrow for more flip-flopping on the state of the team. For now, just put the video on repeat and let the dulcet tones of Len and JD carry you off to dreamland.