Un-Thanksgiving

Welcome to November. Welcome to the holiday season. Welcome to the month were we talk about what we are thankful for. I know who Patriot fans are thankful to have back. I know Cowboy fans are thankful for finding a franchise quarterback in the third round, but let’s get real, we all know what millions of Cubs fans are thankful for this fall. Most of us this November will be answering the “what are you thankful for?” questions with answers like family and health, good friends and laughter, or the fact that we didn’t elect Donald Trump on Tuesday. While those are all really excellent things to be thankful for, as a sports fan, most of us are mired in rebuilds or mediocrity. Therefore, to honor the great month of November, and before we get to those “25 Days of Things I’m Thankful for” facebook posts, here’s my UN-Thankful World Series List. That’s right, here’s an article of things that were wrong with the World Series, just in time, before we get all “kum ba ya” for the next eight weeks.

Photo credit: International Business Times

Photo credit: International Business Times

Let’s start with the mere fact that the Cubs won the World Series, finally giving relief to their suffering fan base. Okay, the Cubs specifically haven’t won a World Series in over 100 years, but that doesn’t stop North Siders, and South Siders alike, form celebrating six Bulls world championships in the 90s, or the Blackhawks from hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup three times since 2010. Admittedly, the Bear’s 1986 Superbowl is starting to look a little dated, but plenty of cities still wish they had one. Look, even if you’re a North Sider and don’t give a damn about the White Sox World Series wins, it’s not like you’ve been deprived that sweet taste only championship teams can provide a city. The Cubs are like Leonardo DiCaprio, sure you wanted him to win, but wasting your time feeling sorry for him while he’s reveling with supermodels only makes you look like a fool.

Fine, you want to call this World Series historic for whatever reason?  That’s great, but the only people who saw it, in its entirety, are unemployed and out of school, or they have their priorities just a bit off. This brings us to unthankful item number two, big game start times. Why can the Super Bowl start at 6pm, but every World Series game starts coverage at 8?  If a game falls on a school night, my kids don’t even see first pitch, and if it’s a weekend game, anything past the third inning is out of the question. For me, the main issue here is the kids. You adults can make your own decisions about what you’d like your work performance to look like in the morning, but I’m sure those of us on the East Coast would appreciate even a 7pm World Series start time.

Photo credit: NY Magazine

Photo credit: NY Magazine

Maybe the start time wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the length of the game. Yep, that’s unthankful item number three. This may be a bit controversial, but I’m anti-instant replay. I’m probably in the minority here, but I like the human element of the umpire. One of the things about baseball that I love is how malleable of a sport it is. Every ball park is shaped differently, every player has a different strike zone, and every umpire has his own interpretation of ball and strikes. He, as a human, can be influenced by the hometown fans, really leveraging home field advantage. Most will argue that getting the call right is the most important thing, but if I was deprived of seeing Lou Piniella throwing bases and kicking dirt while arguing with the ump because the matter was settled by instant replay… I’m not sure my life would be complete.

4. Joe Buck

Acts of God. That’s right God, you’re my number 5. Why must you interfere with our sports?  As a child who was crushed in 1998 by fog, of all things, in Chicago, of all places. I was elated when God was removed from the mix in 2008. The Phillies and Rays game five was suspended until the weather was no longera factor, but God wised up for this one, and gave just enough of the wet stuff in game 7 to break Cleveland’s momentum but not enough to cause a suspension of play to the following day. It was just long enough to break Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw’s rhythm, but not long enough to knock him out of the game. As much as players thank God for their successes and good fortune on the field, that has to come at someone’s expense. Sorry Cleveland, at least you know where you stand.

I’m unthankful that the Cubs have lost their identity. They were the lovable losers. I think the same thing happened to the Red Sox. I watched Boston for years hoping they’d upset the Evil Empire of New York Yankees. When they finally did, those were games I’ll never forget, but when I look at the Red Sox now, I just see another team that’s won some hardware. It’s a great feeling when you finally win, but how can you ever get back to that feeling, because it’ll never be life or death again. A hundred years of waiting builds up quite an emotional release, can that be matched by one offseason?  Five?  Twenty?

Photo credit: SI.com

Photo credit: SI.com

Finally, I can’t shake the feeling that the wrong team won. These teams were so evenly matched it would be difficult to say whether or not the “best” team won, but did the “right” team win?  Chicago manager Joe Maddon made so many tactical errors from the end of game six all the way through game seven, I’d have to say that the Cubs won in spite of him, not because of him. I won’t outline them all here, they’ve been documented enough on plenty of other sites, but suffice it to say even ole #4 Joe Buck was able to spot them without the help of Smoltz.

Take this next statement with grain of salt, because all of that really does bug me. Congratulations to the Cubbies and their fans. This truly was an amazing, epic, all-time World Series. The thing almost all of us should be unthankful for should be that our team wasn’t a participant.