For fans of the impossible, the Chicago Cubs' World Series win late Wednesday night is a man-on-the-moon moment.
To be sure, it is a snide and upsetting planet we all share, and then for five hours Wednesday night it wasn't. An agonizing, wonderful, jagged Game 7 became the biggest sports story of the year, and one of the finest of our lifetimes.
I mean, the Cubs? Really? A trillion tweets, and I still don't believe it. Couldn't sleep the night before, couldn't sleep the night after. As a Chicago native, I feel caffeinated, buzzy, vindicated, sated. And so does anyone who ever picked the long shot, rooted for the Apaches, bet the mortgage on the underdog.
How momentous is this? The star-crossed Cubs are the world champions of baseball. A virus, a curse, an anti-gravity has finally lifted from the land.
Could this come at a better time for a twitchy and divided nation? Amid so much troubling talk, we're all admiring baseball again, that stodgy, past-it's-prime former national pastime. We're talking baseball again, after a World Series as sweet as Halloween candy. It was, quite probably, the most spectacular seven-game series we've ever witnessed.
The best thing about sports is how it can make you feel 12 again. I've followed this team for 55 years — not long, but certainly long enough. It's only a game, sure, and then sometimes it's everything. More than the sum of our hearts. As if religion married obsession.
For more than 100 years, the Cubs have been the Great American Metaphor for hope and unbridled optimism. Not often enough does faith like this get rewarded.
On Wednesday night in Cleveland, it finally did.
So many times, modern sports seems riddled with too many rascals and malcontents. The athletes are mostly just acting the way we would if we didn't pick up on social cues, or fear what our mothers might say. The rascals are to be forgiven, mostly. We cheer their hubris and their wayward, bring-it-on demeanors.
But to really appreciate this moment, you have to understand Chicago, if that's possible. It's an angry city with — till now — a giant hole in its chest. The weather is awful, the elevated trains all squeak. This time of year, the whole city starts to rust.
It's a city that produces more big-fisted literary lions and lousy quarterbacks than it does World Series champs. It's always too quick to fight.
In fact, in the year the Cubs last accomplished this, 1908, one player threw ammonia in another player's face, and then was beaten to a pulp by the manager, Frank Chance.
The Cubs are no poetry society is what I'm saying, yet they couldn't crack the mysterious code that wins a World Series. There are 108 stitches in a baseball, and it's been 108 years since they last won a championship. A Buddhist mala has 108 beads, signifying all our mortal desires.
Yeah, it's all religion and numerology and things we'll never quite fathom. Fittingly, the Cubs didn't keep it simple on Wednesday night — have they ever?
Just like players can press too hard, so can managers. The Cubs skipper yanked his starter too soon, overused his closer, botched a bunt on a 3-2 count with one out and the winning run on third.
True, sometimes the best coaching move is the one no one sees coming. Home runs usually win ballgames like this, not bunts.
Now we see why.
In the end, the real hero became an audaciously cerebral pinch runner who tagged and took second on a deep fly ball — another thing we never see.
So, now the curse is broken, the anti-gravity is gone, and we have firm evidence of a benevolent God.
Don't forget team alchemist Theo Epstein, 42, who has now accomplished the impossible in Boston and Chicago, two cursed cities. With this, the boy genius elevates himself to best sports exec of all time and one of the finest in any field. "Epstein for President" signs will probably dot the Cubs' victory parade.
For, on a soppy November night in Cleveland, the former San Diego law student again elevated this grand old game from a niche sport to something glorious again.
Be still, our baseball hearts. We all just touched the moon.