The World Series starts tonight at 8pm with Chicago playing at Cleveland's Progressive Field. The last time two Great Lakes teams played each other at this level was in 1945. It's with great pleasure to have none other than long-time Waterkeeper friend and supporter, Dave Bidini writing for us as this exciting Great Lakes series unfolds.
You have to be a pretty big dick to cheer against two losers.
I suppose it happens. The Maple Leafs’ misfortune is celebrated and few fans ever weep after seeing the New York Knicks fall into their sneakers. But the Cleveland Those-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named and the Chicago Cubs have been two perennial hard-luck cases for longer than Vin Scully’s been calling ball games (that the play-by-play came even close to keeping with the Cubs' misery should be worthy of our respect).
Over time, they have drawn our aw-shucks sympathies for having not threatened any other team over the last sixty plus-plus years. Even worse – or better, I’m not sure – the Those-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named (TWSNBN) have been perpetually awful without being colourful. Which is to say, the opposite of the Cubs, who have Bartman’ed, Sutcliff’ed and billy goat’ed baseball games. Meanwhile, the TWSNBNs ended most seasons with the dramatic flair of warm air escaping a party balloon; wrinkled and flattened on the carpet, and later pitched into the loaded receptacle.
As I’m sure you’ve recognized, this column about baseball is appearing on a site that’s dedicated to fresh water – and I’ll get to why that is in a second.
But first, one of the great things about the 2016 World Series – starting tonight in a stadium they used to call the Jake but is now called something I can never remember – is that, in an era of reality TV game shows and listicles and award-driven cultural industries, both teams are worth cheering for and both will be remembered for having been part of something remarkable: either the Cubs winning for the first time since 1908 or the TWSNBNs picking up where they left off in 1948. In victory or defeat, the Series becomes them. Which is, at least, an improvement on how things have been going until now.
This is the first time two Great Lakes teams have played in the World Series since 1945, when the Cubs lost (naturally) to the Tigers. You’ll probably not be thinking about this when the TV cameras pan the surrounding bodies of water – Lake Michigan in Chicago, Lake Erie in Cleveland.
But may I suggest that you pause while reaching into your chip bowl and consider that, if these forever losing teams can challenge for a championship, anything is possible. A baseball story can appear on a freshwater site; a Great Lake can be rehabilitated so we can all, you know, swim-drink-fish there; we’ll think about the health and strength of a body of water instead of just thinking “look, there’s a body of water”; and the Leafs will eventually win and be loved the way the Cubs and TWSNBNs are (okay, maybe not that last bit, but you get my drift).
These teams are underdogs and so are our water sources in the 21st century. And because the games are being played on the Great Lakes, let’s remember that these towns and teams probably wouldn’t be there if the lakes didn’t tie places and sport and people together the way they will continue to do over the next ten days or so. Go Cleveland, Go Chicago. Go down to the water.
Let’s play ball.