got a hat!" the bachelor party, all innocence, chorused gleefully, as I
s-l-o-w-l-y returned to my seat.
I gazed across
the asylum. Impending doom? Where was it now in Wrigleyville, where it always
grew thicker than ivy? Gone, the fans around me kept insisting, vaporized ever
since the Cubs had swept their four-game series with the second-place Brewers
in July, the last three of those games outright thigh-slappers. "It's
strange, because we've walked into this trap before," Will Wagner, the
author of the 2005 book Wrigley Blues, had mused over pregame pizza.
not going to have a '69 again," declared Chris, referring to that most
notorious of Cubs collapses when a black cat scampered past Ron Santo in the
on-deck circle at Shea Stadium as his team was busy trashing a nine-game
mid-August lead. "This is the best Cub team since the '30s. We've got five
pitchers who'll have double-figure wins. We win by five even when we don't play
well. We've got depth and we've got versatility—guys that play everywhere and
can hit almost anywhere in the order. We're always up 5--1 in the third or
we're coming back to win in the eighth. I've been waiting for this team all my
On cue, the
eighth-inning comeback began. Pint-sized pinch hitter Mike Fontenot socked one
into the wind stream and watched it vanish. Phils 4, Cubs 2. Alfonso Soriano
short-hopped the wall in right center for a double, then Ryan Theriot lined a
single to right. Dr. Drew led the entire rightfield bleachers in Olé! Olé! Olé!
Olé! "Never saw a Cub team like this!" howled Chris. "Never out of
it!" Derrek Lee walked. Bases jammed. Entire joint on its feet. Another
Marty-missed call, number 22 from his steaming girlfriend. A 1--0 fastball to
Aramis Ramirez: Oh my God....
Ramirez sent it
deep into the night sky, the wind whipped it further yet—grand slam! Cubs 6,
Phils 4. The crowd boom was sonic, an eruption so deafening that it startled
attendants at a parking lot a mile and a half away; how loud would it have been
if so many people weren't kissing and screaming? Every plastic cowboy hat but
my missing one twirled high above a Brokebacker's head like a bronco rider's.
"Marty ain't gettin' none tonight!" shouted Chris, "but A-Ram
No one departed
after the Phillies submitted in the ninth. Everyone stayed and sang like a
college crowd chorusing its fight song—
Go, Cubs, go!
Go, Cubs, go!
Hey, Chicago, what do you say?
The Cubs are gonna win today!
They got the power, they got the speed
To be the best in the National League
Well this is the year and the Cubs are real
So come on down to Wrigley Field!
is, except Marty, smiling too hard to sing, bent in half with bliss over the
rightfield wall, head dunked in his beloved basket.