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.
Kitchen in Chicago suburb St. Charles, October 25 – “Welcome to Chicago” – ah, it’s great to hear those words. The trip across the Atlantic is behind me and I’m back in town for the World Series. It’s amazing to even think about those words.For those wondering, the flight was okay. I felt like a sardine but that’s nothing new to hear for those who fly often. I did take in a couple of movies on the flight – Now You See Me 2 and Lucy. NYSM2 was pretty entertaining. I had seen the first film and enjoyed it. I’m a real sucker for a good heist movie and do enjoy a bit of magic as well. Lucy starred Scarlett Johansson and looked into the theory that we only use about 10 percent of our cerebral capacity. It was a little too much of a shoot-em-up film for my liking but at least it made you think a bit.
The films definitely helped kill the time.
Arriving at airports in the United States from abroad is becoming a real hassle for those who might not have experienced it before. The days of just waiting in line to approach an immigration officer are long gone. First, passengers are sent to automated terminals where your passport is checked and you answer a few questions and have your picture taken for a receipt. I believe non-US citizens must have their fingerprints checked at this time.
This step is probably no big deal but I’m starting to get to the point where I am getting more ornery and kind of dread change. People approach me if I can help them at the terminals and I admit to them that I don’t know what I’m doing myself. So, first after you get this receipt can you then get in line to go through immigration and get your bags.
Ah … fresh air again. The doors beyond the arrivals area open and the pleasant cool breeze gives you new life after being stuck in a flying machine for eight hours.
And then drives up my older brother Steve. I will be staying with him and his family for the first couple of days of my trip. It’s great to see him and we catch up on things as we maneuver our way through the Chicago suburban traffic. It’s not the traffic here that I don’t miss at all, it’s the fact that you can freely pass cars on the right – something bordering on taboo in good ole orderly Germany, where you only pass cars on the left.
Finally we arrive at Steve’s place in suburban St. Charles, which is about 45 minutes or so west of Chicago. This is the place where I will watch Game 1 on Tuesday – with Steve’s family of four kids and wife.
Monday evening is spent catching up with the family and discussing our favorite cubs – Javier Baez was the overwhelming fav in the house (and for me as well) with Anthony Rizzo a close second.
The family proudly presented me with some awesome swag – a Raise the Flag T-shirt as well as a W rally towel.
Later in the evening, Steve’s two girls showed off their individualized dances they gave to most of the Cubs players – Dex the Rex (Dexter Fowler), K-Boom (Kris Bryant), Rizzo (for the nicknameless Anthony Rizzo), Zorilla (Ben Zobrist), Boom Boom Baez (Javier Baez), Hey Hey Heyward (Jason Heyward), Addi Slam, Addison Muscle, Addi Smooth (Addison Russell) and Cong-treras (Wilson Contreas).
The girls also presented their nicknames for a couple of the most pronounced Cubs batting stances – Toilet-Sitting Bryant, Hoola-Hooping Rizzo and Hip-Hop-Shaking Zobrist.
After a long journey and a lot of emotions and a lot of fun, it was time to finally turn in at 10 p.m. This fits in perfectly with my idea of how to deal with jetlag – go to bed at about the time you usually would when you are home.
So, after a good night’s sleep, it was finally to going to happen. The Cubs were back in the World Series – after a while if you want to make an understatement.
While the kids are getting ready for school, they come down with Cubs T-shirts on. I’m told the middle school principal – a big Cubs fan – emailed parents to let them know that today is official Cubs day in school and are encouraged to wear Cubs shirts and other gear. The morning news show on Chicago’s WGN station is on and of course is full of Cubs news. One of the leading stories in the entertainment portion is that Tom Hanks was on the Stephen Colbert late night show and said there will be tears shed at the World Series and they will be tears of disappointment for Chicago fans as Hanks said the Indians will win the title.
Even as a Cubs fans, I feel kind of sorry for Indians fans who really have a magical run behind them and also have a long drought they are hoping to end. If the Cubs weren’t in the World Series I would probably be rooting for Indians to win their first World Series since 1948.
But of course it’s the Cubs for me. And not just for me. Watching WGN’s morning news show, they were holding a World Series rally at Harry Caray’s Restaurant which started at 4am – yes, 4am and Game 1 doesn’t start until 7pm. It’s really cool seeing former Cubs stars like Kerry Wood and Steve Trout appear at Harry Caray’s and talk about the past and present teams. A reporter in front of Wrigley Field is talking about logistics around the stadium during the World Series – even Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland. She said police are awaiting at least 300,000 fans in the immediate surroundings for each of the first two games.
While my plan for Game 1 is to watch the game at my brother’s place in the suburbs, I will be in the city for Game 2. It’s still unclear exactly where I will be for the game, but definitely downtown.
It would be a far stretch to say I am worried about the crowds on the streets for Games 3-5 when the games are actually taking place in the city. But I will definitely go into city with an “exit plan” if things get a bit too much. Way too often things get out of hand with crowds in the hundreds of thousands. And I plan on being aware of things going on around me.
But seeing pictures of these huge crowds – and the TV attention-starved people at Harry Caray’s – I’m left wondering just how many of those fans know the names of Xavier Nady, Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather, Luis Valbuena and Junior Lake. Each of those guys played at least 100 games in a season during the less-than-glorious run of 2010-2014, when the Cubs lost an average of 93.2 games, topping out at 101 losses in 2012.
No, this is not saying anything against bandwagon fans. I really am just wondering how many could actually remember all of those guys. How many of them were still on board with the Cubs. How many were still a loyal lover of the Lovable Losers. The Cubs are far far from the Lovable Losers now. They are the favorites to win the title and the failings of the past are behind them.
Any how, need to move on to other things before Game 1 starts. Thanks for joining me on my journey – and I look forward to the next update