Pots & pans: The sports gods finally smiled on the Cubs
Who knows what decisions were really made during that late-game rain delay?
Who knows why the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 on Wednesday, winning their first World Series since 1908, the year Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion. Some Cubs fans will tip their hats to the pluck and resilience of their young team, which had trailed in the series 3-1.
Others will think the Cubs’ three-game series winning streak resulted from them rediscovering the form that saw them win more than 100 regular-season games. Still others will think that everything from their prayers to their routines and rituals helped lift the supposed curse from their team.
But I like to imagine the World Series being decided by the sports gods during the 17-minute rain delay between the bottom of the ninth and the top of the 10th innings of the seventh and deciding game, the score tied 6-6.
The way I imagine it, the sports gods convene in a three-dimensional roost that stands, like a home plate umpire, just behind the North Star. The roost is part ancient Roman senate, part English parliament and part black barbershop, all places known for their brilliant speeches and wise decisions.
Mr. Solomon takes the floor. He looks like Frederick Douglass, the great American abolitionist, part man and part lion. Before becoming a sports god, Mr. Solomon was the head barber in a black barbershop. He chews Juicy Fruit gum but his breath smells of fried fish and hot sauce just the same. Before speaking, he smiles in the direction of the queen of the sports gods. Her mother named her Oya, but everybody calls her Miss Essie or Sister Storm. She’s in charge of weather, especially the weather during big-time outdoor sporting events.
“That rain you sent to Ohio on Wednesday night was right on time,” Mr. Solomon says. “Gave us time to figure stuff out.”
Miss Essie purses her lips before responding: “You fellas had been blowing a lot of hot air all game, all series, really. You were arguing for one team and then another, but not deciding who was going to win. I just combined your hot air with some rain I keep handy. Then I sent the whole thing to Ohio, give everybody a chance to get straight.”
Mr. Solomon snapped his scissors in the air, just above the head of Mercury, a Roman sports god, who was in the chair. Mr. Solomon liked to cut hair when he dropped knowledge.
“So it’s agreed,” Mr. Solomon says: “The Cubs win and Cleveland Indians fans get to be Major League Baseball’s unchallenged long-suffering fans. Some fans really get off on that long-suffering thing; it provides some real psychic income. Remember the Boston Red Sox Nation? Some folk chewed on that long-suffering fan stuff as if it were the sweetest sugar cane.”
At that, an approving rumble broke out among the seven sports gods, one for each continent. Their robes blow in a celestial breeze. They pass around the gourd filled with cherry Kool-Aid-flavored ambrosia. Each takes a big gulp, sealing their commonsense consensus.
“OK,” says Mercury, who moves so fast and changes so often that even the other sports gods aren’t sure of his appearance. Still, he once was the Roman god of commerce. He has grown increasingly powerful among the sports gods. He says, “I like the concept, but let’s decide upon some details. First, how much longer should the Indians be Major League Baseball’s undisputed long-suffering fans?”
Mr. Solomon strokes his red whiskers before answering. “I’m for leaving it open-ended. But I’d like it to last long enough that some of the brightest Cleveland baseball fans might link their team’s continuing failure to win the World Series to the club’s Cheshire-Cat smiling Indian logo. I’m thinking the World Series drought, already 68 years old, might last long enough that some fans might consider changing the team’s name, too. But if we wait for that, we could be talking a long time. That casual disregard for the feelings of others can be a warm and snug security blanket for some. Sometimes you have to suffer before you’re ready to let that blanket, a cloak of privilege, fall away into the past.”
Mercury smiles and says that’s deep.
And Miss Essie, who bears a striking resemblance to Academy-award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, chimes in, “And cold, too.”