Tag Archives: Cubs

A Virtue Family Oral History of Game 7 of the World Series

It’s been a couple months, but there are times I’m still nervous. I’m still in disbelief it actually happened. But the Cubs winning the World Series is one of my great life moments.  One of my earliest memories of my grandfather is him taking us to Wrigley Field in the early 80’s, before lights were installed. I remember the Cubs were playing the Dodgers when the Dodgers had players like Mike Marshall and Fernando Valenzuela. It’s the first baseball park memory I have.

Both of my grandfathers lived and died in Illinois without seeing a Cubs World Series Championship. My dad, born in 1950, had not seen it. I’m in my 40’s and it’s been a rough go. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get over Bartman and the 2003 experience.  2007 and 2008 were stuff that leads to learned helplessness.

So the last couple of years have been an amazing run. Like many others did with loved ones, when the Cubs beat the Dodgers to advance to the World Series I thought of that game with my Grandfather back in the early 80’s.

But I almost missed it. I almost didn’t watch Game 7.

Because I live in Manila, the majority of MLB Playoff Games started at 8am my time. And it so happens I spent most of October in PhD intensives starting at….8am.  It was a month of confliction, but I was getting used to not watching. In fact, Game 7 took place on a work day so I was planning, for some odd reason, to head to campus like normal. (What was I thinking?)  But that’s when fate stepped in…or God’s sovereignty…or sheer dumb luck stepped in.

My wife hit a tree.  Pulling out of our driveway she backed into a tree and shattered the rear-view window of our van. T minus 90 minutes until game time.  This is the mighty oak of a tree that did such great damage to our car.

Pulling out of our driveway she backed into a tree and shattered the rear-view window of our van. T minus 90 minutes until game time.  This is the mighty oak of a tree that did such great damage to our car.

This is the mighty oak of a tree that did such great damage to our car.

But it was raining, our kids needed to get to school, and our other car was coded. For those not in Manila, the system to help the traffic problem is that every car is banned from the road for one day out of the week. So we were in a bind – we couldn’t drive the coded car and we couldn’t drive the van without a rear window in the rain.

So we gave up and decided to let the kids stay home, while we balanced watching Game 7 with getting our rear window fixed.  Through the Filipino network – a friend of a friend of the guy raking leaves next store, we got a lead on a place that could do the window and my wife graciously offered to take the car in so that we could watch the game.

The game begins.  I felt sick to my stomach. But Fowler’s lead-off homer helped my nerves.

A few innings later, Kris Bryant scored on an improbably tag-up on a short fly ball.  I yelled something incoherent with intense excitement. My 9-year-old son looks at me, who only knew a few years of Cubs futility before this says to me, “Wow Dad. I’ve never seen you that emotional and excited.”

After the Javy Baez homer in the 5th, I start to let me myself dream a bit and it’s a party in the house. At this point, the van window is fixed and fully restored $100 later. Now our whole family is watching the game.

In the bottom of the 5th, the umpire makes an egregious call on a Kyle Hendricks strikeout pitch and prolongs the inning. I start to fume and bark at the umpire.  My six-year-old daughter looks at me with a disapproving look. This sets the stage for the pitching change and wild pitch and Cleveland scoring a couple runs. I start to feel sick again.

But in the 6th David Ross homers and all is well again and Lester starts mowing down hitters.  Things are looking good again and I’m starting to trip out that this might actually happen.  Then the 8th inning. That awful 8th inning.

Just prior to the Davis gut punch home run, my kids were sensing my excitement and decided to treat me to an early celebration. Bless their hearts. They don’t know about Bartman or Durham or all the other kicks to the groin Cubs fans have endured, leaving us to behave like battered dogs during these moments. My kids were all set to surprise me with full on head to toe Cubs gear, ready to kick off the celebration when – Rajai Davis ties it up with a 2 run home run. I go to my dark place and tell the kids anxiously – “Not now. Not now.  This is bad and they may not win!” My kids are confused. I feel like I’m starting to look at the very gates of hell.

But then, because we’re in Manila – the internet starts going out.  I struggle to watch the bottom of the ninth and rain delay because the stream has to buffer so long. We watch one minute and then wait two minutes, which adds to the agony of the experience.  I thank God for the rain delay but have hope because Schwarber leads off the 10th and he is Babe ruth reincarnated.

Because of the internet delays, I go dark on social media and we watch the 10th. I’m yelling, screaming, and talking at the television like a mad man.  My youngest daughter is disturbed and uncomfortable with the tension in the room – scared by the cheers coming with each hit and play.  She cries “Too loud! Too loud!” But I find out a couple weeks later than somewhere in this period of time she prayed to God that the Cubs would win...probably out of concern for her father’s well being.

The internet speeds up a bit and the Zobrist hit sends us into a frenzy, followed by Montero’s insurance RBI. I’m a nervous wreck that Carl Edwards Jr. is going to try to close the game, all 80 lbs of him. The Indians score and I start to feel sick again. One out away. So close, but so far.

But the internet stops. I have to re-set the router as there is a pitching change being made with the tying run on base. We’re back to internet buffering. My wife is looking at her phone and making a weird look.

The internet gives us just enough to watch the final out and celebration. I realize my wife was sneaking a peak online and got the news a few minutes before we got to watch it. Fortunately, she kept it a secret.

Then my family gave me an authentic Ryne Sandberg jersey (my favorite player as a kid) they found for 10$ at a local mall (God Bless the Philippines!).

And I haven’t been able to stop watching highlights and replays and bad youtube montages since.

I.CAN’T.GET.ENOUGH.

But I still feel nervous thinking about it because there’s part of me that has a hard time believing it happened.

So it was a stressful, gut-wrenching, exhilarating experience that is a life highlight, given I got to experience it with my family. It was especially fun to go through the playoff journey with Colin because he’s really gotten into the Cubs in the last year or two.

And it was all because my wife backed into a tiny, but powerful tree.

 

 

Pre-School Theology: Game 7 Prayers

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Pre-School Theology

My daughter, who is in kindergarten now, believes she helped the Cubs win Game 7 of this year’s world series and thus, their first world series since 1908.

While stuck in typical Manila traffic last week on the way home from the kid’s school, she started this conversation.

“Dad. After that other team tied the game, I prayed that the Cubs would win. And then God answered my prayer and the Cubs won.”

My favorite part of this was that we really had had no Cubs related conversation or interaction in the previous week. It was something she wanted me to know.

I would love to know what her motivation was for praying for the Cubs and for letting me know God answered her prayer. Did she do it because she saw her father in an unusually vulnerable and rabid moment and it worried her?  Was it because she knew it was a big deal and important to at least her father and brother?  Something in her wanted a happy ending for the people she cares about so she prayed.

I loved the moment and it was fun to connect over the Cubs. But a great reminder that we need to ground our prayer life on solid theological footing.

Putting aside the fact that God is in fact a Cubs fan 😛 , I decided not to bring up the high likelihood that she had a 6-year-old counterpart in Cleveland praying the exact same thing for the Cleveland Indians.  What about her?

During the World Series I heard a record amount of animistic language from people on all sorts of teams praying to ancestors, former players, God, and who knows what else – attributing everything from good luck to timeline rainfall to the goodwill of long lost relatives and God’s partiality.   I was shocked at how much animism was alive and well in the western sporting domain!

But for now – I’m glad my daughter feels like she had a part in a great moment for me and our family.  In time, we’ll have to break the news that God probably doesn’t care much about our sports teams.

Though if God did care about sports teams, I’m still pretty sure He would care most about the Cubs.   😛

 

Happy 5th Colin!

We’ve been having fun celebrating my son’s fifth birthday. Truly an incredible boy.  He’s a passionate, energetic, feeling, empathetic, sensitive, loving, athletic, and bright kid that is in a lot of ways the feeling heart of our family.

He feels everything.  In fact, I made the mistake of telling him he would never be 4 years old again – and he lost it with deep grieving.

Happy 5th Birthday!

 Colin chose a Cub themed birthday party this year. A highlight of his year as a 4 year old was going to Chicago with me and my dad and going to Wrigley for a Cubs game and his first baseball game.

 Props to my wife for finding these “eye black” stickers with the Cubs logo. Very fun party. Felt like I died and went to Cub heaven.

 

Stats Lie Pt 7 – Stats and Lack of Capacity

This entry is part 7 of 14 in the series Stats Lie

I want to continue on in my series of posts here with another baseball inspired post.  It is the sport of my youth so I just can’t stay away from it for too long.

Last week Buster Olney, ESPN baseball guru, tweeted out a statement to the effect that “There is no perfect defensive efficiency statistic in baseball right now.” He cited an example of my Chicago Cubs.  He wrote that based on the most widely used defensive statistic now, that the fourth rated defensive outfielder is Alfonso Soriano.  Say What???!!!!

Stats lie. And this one tells a whopper!

For context for non-baseball folk.  Soriano is BRUTAL as a left fielder.  He had a cannon for an arm, but the rest of the time it’s like watching a little leaguer try to make plays. He was a second baseman for a long time.  But he was horrible and was an error machine.  The Cubs paid him the worst contract ever and he’s been in left field for the last five years with the Cubs.  He merits his own bloopers special.  This gives rise to what I am going to call “The Soriano Effect.”

“The Soriano Effect” is when you are so bad at defense, that you don’t even end up in a position to make a lot of the same mistakes others make because you don’t even have the capacity to get there in the first place.  So your numbers look good, but only because you weren’t good enough to have a chance to make a mistake.

“The Soriano Effect” is at work in ministries and organizations. It happens when leaders take comfort in some measurement or statistic, yet a closer examination might reveal that the number really reveals a total lack of capacity in some other crucial area.

Take someone who is looking at their financial stewardship.  They look at their savings and feel awesome and they feel real good about their financial stewardship and responsibility. But a closer look reveals perhaps that they don’t give or tithe or donate money anywhere.  So at what first glance is financial responsibility, is actually hoarding and selfishness.  The success in one measurement was produced by a total lack of capacity in another area.

In my organization, some of the numbers of new staff to one of the ethnic specific ministries has been celebrated (and rightfully so) as the most sent into this ministry ever.  However, all of them are serving cross-culturally and none have been from the ethnic context itself.  It’s still worth celebrating, but it reveals that there still is a tremendous lack of organizational capacity to see folks from this ethnic background join our staff.  The success of one statistic hides the weakness or lack of capacity in another crucial area.  The potential danger is that the conversations would be directed by the celebrated stat and the needed conversations to build capacity in the other areas wouldn’t happen.  (This isn’t being critical, just illustrating the process. We have to celebrate, learn, and change all at the same time. Sometimes stats lure us into premature or naive celebration.)

And say you’re running a web site with a blog.  You get really excited by the number of hits you have over its first couple of months and you only look at that one statistic.  You feel good about yourself. But then you find out the real story is that it’s your mom and other family members repeatedly reading everything.  You have maybe a lot of hits, but the range and network of influence is exposed as being really narrow. This may be true for some Christian “evangelistic” web sites actually too, where hits are celebrated but they may be mostly coming from believers and those in the Church. “The Soriano Effect.”

So as you think deeper about measurements and statistics you might use, what areas or capacities might be getting “covered up?”  Do your numbers have the equivalent to a “photographic negative” that reveals a lack of capacity in some area?

The “Soriano Effect” can be great for rationalization and justification, but it doesn’t pass the eye test (or smell test if you prefer) for those that know what to look for.

Where are you seeing “The Soriano Effect”?

How do you guard against statistical deception when it is driven by an obvious lack of capacity in some other area of significance?

 

 

 

My Trip to Paradise

While in Chicago a couple weeks back for some organizational meetings related to theological development, the Cubs were in town!  I hadn’t been in about a decade, but it worked out to get to a game and I was in heaven. There was a rain delay for about an hour with crazy lightning so we got to hang out at Wrigley for a while which all good by me.  Then the Cubs had their first big offensive explosion of the year so there was plenty of action.

Between the blowout and the weather people were bailing left and right.  By the seventh inning me and another dude worked our way down to about 15 rows behind the Cubs dugout in like $150-$200 seats.  Unbelievable.  For me, it’s hard for it to get much better than that.

So amidst a season that is going to be another Cubs train wreck with half the roster injured and the other half sucking, the whole season was made for me.  It’s all gravy from here on out in the sports department this year.

Only down side was my son is still angry at me for going without him and he asks almost every day when we can go to “Hey Chicago” (which is what he calls it because of the Go, Cubs, Go song they play after victories).

And we got to see the Cubs Grounds Crew work their magic with lightning bolts flying overhead.  It was an impressive display of teamwork and leadership actually.  They got a huge ovation for doing a great job and getting soaked doing it.

Go, Cubs, Go 🙂   Someday I’ll get back there, hopefully I’ll have my kids with me!

It’s October…

So when you have young kids it’s a big time month of gearing up for the great make believe day known as Halloween.One little guy is ready to go.  He also turns 3 the day before Halloween so there’s a lot of build up to the end of the month.  It’s a pretty fun time as a parent.  I just hope baby Virtue stays in the oven until November so we can enjoy that last week of October.In the meantime – it’s Spiderman as much as he is allowed to keep it on.  I’m on a parental high because this signals the transition from the “dressing in my sister’s princess dresses” phase.  Lovin’ it!

And it’s so fun that dude is turning 3.  Lately when he sees sports highlights on tv or a game is on he’ll ask me, “Did the Cubs win?”  or “Did the Bears win?”

Most of the time my instinct is to tell the truth, “No, they suck.”  But I manage to keep my composure and say, “No, sorry man. Maybe they’ll win tomorrow.”  And I’m thinking to myself, “That’s how the “wait ’til next year” mentality passes from generation to generation.”

Help Me Name My Daughter!

We’re dragging on getting a name for our third child, our daughter who is on the way sometime in the next couple months.I like to integrate important areas of my life so I thought I might see how I can integrate my passion of Chicago sports teams with my new daughter’s name.Vote for the one you think is best.  I’m including a list below the poll of all who are referenced here if you’re not up to speed on Chicago sports lore.   But please vote for something!

Of course, my wife and probably my other daughter have full veto rights, but I’m hoping I can create a groundswell of momentum and shock the world 🙂  If you think of a different combination that works better, leave it in the comments section!Walter Payton, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, Jim McMahon, Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Wrigley Field, Addison St. (cross-street of Wrigley)

In the meantime

As you can tell I’ve been posting a lot of “fuzzy” stuff of late.   I have had a lot on my mind and not a lot of those things lend themselves to blogging right now.  I’ve also been caught up the baby frenzy in my family right now at the same time as I recover some major let down from wrapping up what has been about 8 years of regularly taking at least 1 or 2 classes on the side.I have two classes left but I get a nice 9 month sabbatical until I can make any progress and I’m ready for an extended break!  Mentally I’ve relocated to some different space for awhile, but in the meantime I will continue to post things as they come to mind – like this illustration at cubby-blue.com which cracked me up after the well publicized Zambrano meltdown over the weekend.  I still like Zambrano though not sure what he’s got left.  Hope he gets it together.