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.
Union Pacific West on the way back out of Chicago, October 30 – Well, on the way back out of the city to my brother’s place to watch Game 5 with the family.
We all know how Game 4 turned out. A run in the first off Indians ace Corey Kluber was not nearly enough as John Lackey gave up three runs in five innings and Jason nailed a three-run home run off Travis Wood in the seventh inning in a 7-2 Indians win for a 3-1 Cleveland lead in the World Series. This was NOT how this was supposed to be happening. Now the Cubs need to win three in a row to get the title and it’s gonna be a tall task. But you have to say Cleveland has deserved it. They have played better, pitching and hitting better than the Cubs.
The day started in my old neighborhood. A walk with my buddy’s dog around the block was a pleasant way to begin it. One thing I noticed was the squirrels. They were all grey. When I was growing up here they were all brown, and now they were all grey – very strange.
Getting back to his place I really wanted to see if my old neighbors were there. I walked over to the next block and saw a light in the kitchen – it was about 8:30am. I rang the doorbell and the family father opened the door annoyed and looked at me like: “Why are you here at 8:30am on the weekend?” And then just as he was about to utter the words he had just thought up, his face recognition recall had found a match. It’s always wonderful to see that smile. Seeing someone you haven’t seen in a while is nice in general but it’s that much more special when it’s unannounced.
After a smile and hug came: “What are you doing here?”
“Is it too early for trick or treating?” was my response.
“Get on in here!”
He had made bacon for his still sleeping family and I was offered up anything – “I can cook up some scrambled eggs.”
“Ah some toast and a piece or two of bacon is plenty.”
“You got it.”
The usual catching up – how is work, the wife, mom, this brother and that brother and then reciprocally his work, kids etc – was followed by a touch of sports and politics and on and on.
But it was very pleasant and way overdue – another usual early topic is when was the last time you were in town.
I didn’t want to leave my friend for too much longer and I actually slowly but surely wanted to get back into the city.
It was time to say goodbye to the neighbors and then my friend dropped me off at the train station to get back into the city.
It was time to catch up with another high school friend with whom I still have some contact but too sporadic for how much he meant to me in high school. Unfortunately I really caught him at a tough time in his life and it was really tough to see him like that because he had always been a pretty positive and upbeat person.
A couple of things were clear through this visit. First: It’s something I consciously haven’t been doing for a while, but I will never say “I understand how you’re feeling.” unless I have actually gone through the same situation. A person going through tough times does not want to hear that and it doesn’t help. I tried to offer constructive advice like just find little things every day that make you smile. And get through that day and that there are still people around who love and value you.
Secondly: Things can change like that. Whether it’s an accident or some traumatic incident. Carpe diem – seize the day. Enjoy it and value it while you can.
So enough heavy stuff …
After some emotional moments, it was time to bid farewell again to my old bud and head back to Wrigleyville.
First stop was the former apartment of my friend – the one with whom I had dinner, as in one of the two with the same birthday from a couple days ago. She used to live right on Kenmore – about three blocks from Waveland. And we were going to watch Game 5 in the backyard. I dropped off my backpack and felt like a new man.
Time to take in the crowd. With tomorrow night being Halloween, there were plenty of people out in costumes. So it was fun and colorful. I went back to the corner with the Harry Carey statue and just took a seat on the curb to enjoy the crowd. A group of six or seven guys were at a balcony on the second floor above the crowd, talking to passers-by. They caught the attention of one woman and were trying to guess her name. Name after name after name. None of them – Cathy, Ashland, Kate, Jenny, etc – matched. The balcony bunch were guessing for minutes. Probably about five minutes, coming up with silly names too. None of them were right.
“Give us the first letter!”
“Beth, Betty, Brittney …”
Still not right.
“Give us the second letter!”
After a few more names they finally found “Becky”.
The balcony boys chanted: “Beck-y! Beck-y!”
And the crowd on the street gave them a hand.
Then they went after Becky’s husband or boyfriend. After not too much time Becky mouthed them his name – “Marco!”
“Beck-y! Mar-co!” Clap-clap Clap-clap “Beck-y! Mar-co!” Clap-clap clap-clap
The Curse Busters also made it to the corner – two guys with Ghostbusters costumes.
In general, the mood around the stadium was really good – also the excitement of being in Wrigleyville during the World Series. There were a lot of “Party like it’s 1908” T-shirts as well as a good load of “I ain’t afraid of no goats” and “Try not to suck”.
Just before I went to meet up with my friend, I was at Sheffield and Addison and all of a sudden Jack White of the White Stripes fame walked by. I am a big fan of White’s music and producing so that was definitely pretty cool.
Then I headed over to my friend’s place. We had beers, chips and the legendary Jimmy John’s subs. With the Cubs losing by five runs after eight innings we actually decided to pack up and leave, kind of hoping that our leaving would start the winning rally. Obviously that didn’t happen but we did get spots on the trains out of town.
One more note on the train ride home … At the end of the line there were a bunch of youngsters in Halloween costumes being loud and obnoxious. They all got off at the Noyes stop on the Purple line – pronounced “noise”. And one of the 50-somethings on the train said: “That’s our future?” which got a big laugh from others in the car.
That was basically the end of another long day and I was sleeping before my head even hit the pillow.
Talk after Game 5 – Go Cubs!