David Hein is an international basketball and sports writer/reporter based in Regensburg, Germany, and a featured columnist with FIBA basketball (among other outlets) and owns/operates heinnews. An Illinois native and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, David will be chronicling his 7,000 mile journey from Germany to the World Series, one game at a time. Connect with David Hein on Twitter.
Oak Park Station Union Pacific West line, October 27 – Okay, you have to be excited about the Cubs chances of winning this World Series now for sure – grabbing Game 2 with a 5-1 victory in Cleveland to even the series at 1-1 with Games 3, 4 and 5 in Chicago.Before we go any further, a little bit about this trip. It’s not a work trip directly. I have on-going work that I am doing here in Chicago. But my journey to see and experience the World Series is a private endeavor. And as such, I have no issues with saying that I did not watch Game 2 – not at least actively at all.
What? How can you do that? You’re a Cubs fan. You’re supposed to experience the city during the World Series.
Well, in fact I did just that. This city is so big and has so much going on that you actually can avoid it without a major effort. During the first three innings I was at a wonderful restaurant called Ralph Lauren, eating delicious lobster bisque with a fantastic salmon and salad as the main dish. I was out with two great friends from high school who both were celebrating their birthday. One of them lived in the Chicago area whom I have visited in Chicago and she me in Germany. And the other friend – whom I visited in San Francisco and she also came to Germany to visit – actually flew in from New York to have dinner with us before flying back to the Big Apple on Thursday. We had a wonderful time catching up and talking about anything and everything. And thanking the Cubs for bringing me to Chicago to make this dinner gathering even possible.
I would have gladly stayed longer but that was the European in me forgetting that the waitress asking a second time if everything was okay after she had already taken our empty plates and was told no about desserts was actually a hint that they would like to clear the table for waiting guests.
It was first at that point where we looked at a smartphone to to see that the Cubs were leading 2-0 in the fourth. I let out an “Oh yeah!”
We headed to the hotel bar where my New York friend was staying and they had the game on but these friends were so much more important than this one game. We definitely didn’t need to sit right near the TV. Further back was totally fine and I would just sit in the direction of the game.
The pleasant conversation continued with a short interruption of … “They added another one.” So went the night and I had no problem with it.
I did go back this morning and watch the condensed game, which I will say is a pretty nice way to catch up and see most of the action.
Two major notes – Jake was dealing and Schwarbs is a stud. Incredible.
Getting the run early is so important in the playoffs, and that’s exactly what the Cubs did and if you can get five strong innings from your starter, you’re just about home.
So, you know about the game. I arrived Wednesday midday in the city – in a pretty heavy rain. The taxi driver was a Nigerian who lived in London for a while before coming to Chicago. We chatted about British imperialism and the Brexit and moved onto the US election. It was a very entertaining discussion.
Then at the hotel – where we would later return to after dinner – I was covering some German soccer matches. Luckily one of the hotel welcomers was there to give me a wonderful baseball history lesson. I never did catch his name but he seemed like he could be a Wilbur or Virgil or Byron. He oozed enthusiasm about baseball, having watched the Cubs since 1957. He was full of stories about all the greats – Banks, Clemente, Mays, Aaron, Mantle, Drysdale, Marichal etc. But he also told me about Ken Hubbs and Glenn Beckert.
I had never heard the name Ken Hubbs and his name came up when we brought up Javier Baez. “You should have seen Ken Hubbs,” I was told.
Check out this chronicle of the life of Hubbs, who was the 1962 NL Rookie of the Year and the first rookie to win the Gold Glove. Read about all he built up before dying in a plane crash in 1964 at 21 years of age.
Beckert meanwhile was a four-time All-Star as the Cubs second baseman.
When I asked him about his favorite Cub or all time, our beloved Wilbur or whatever his name is didn’t hesitate a second: “Mr. Cub.” Ernie Banks for those who might not know.
Biggest giveaway was the “horrible” trade of Lou Brook – with the Cubs getting pitcher Ernie Broglio from the Cardinals for the future Hall of Famer.
“Those guys back then were BALL PLAYERS,” urged Virgil or Byron or whatever his name is. Today? Who does he consider a ball player from today’s group? “Oh man … hmmm.”
Silence for a good 25-30 seconds. I didn’t feel like making him work. “What about Trout?” I asked, referring to the Angel outfielder Mike Trout. “Yeah, Trout is one. You can see some Willie Mays in him.”
Bryce Harper? “He’s got some mental things that worry me,” was his response.
Unfortunately I had to cover the soccer and we had to cut off our conversation. I would have loved to continue for hours.
Before that though, I asked: “What will it mean to you if the Cubs do it and win the series?”
“I will shed my share of tears and will be so overjoyed. I’m not sure what I’ll do.”
Have you lost friends from back early on who you wish were here to see this?, I asked.
“Oh, they’re here in spirit.”
So, this morning was spent at Starbucks on wifi writing up my FIba.com youth basketball column. That is one of the on-going jobs I have while I am here. On the way to Starbucks, the Chicago news had a quote from a police official talking about 1,000 state, local and federal authorities being deployed on Friday around Wrigleyville for Game 3. There would be rotating street closures in the area as well as random bag checks for people in the crowd. The official finished by saying: “For residents it will be a very inconvenient weekend.”
And I will be right in the middle of it. My Metra is just about to arrive and I have taken up way too much of your precious time.
Until we chat again … Go Cubs!